Capitals' Lundqvist hopes to return, awaiting examination later in April

Henrik Lundqvist, pictured in action for the Rangers. (Frank Franklin II/AP Photo)

There's a reason Kevin Weekes has taken to calling Henrik Lundqvist "The Terminator."

That's because the 39-year-old netminder, who's only three months removed from open-heart surgery, appears to be relentless in his efforts to return to the ice.

In a wide-ranging interview with his former New York Rangers teammate on NHL Network on Wednesday, Lundqvist said he is hoping to resume playing in the NHL, but that goal is dependent on an examination later this month.

"I love it. I want to compete, and it's going to come down to testing and conversations with the doctors," Lundqvist said per NHL.com's Tom Gulitti.

"It's coming up, so we're getting close to that point. And until then, I just keep grinding, and then we'll see what happens."

The future Hall of Famer and long-time Ranger had aortic valve, aortic root and ascending aortic replacement procedures done on Jan. 5. And has publicly chronicled his mind-blowingly quick return to training.

Last month, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan didn't rule out the possibility of Lundqvist's return this season for Washington, which has been relying on young goaltenders Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek as it battles for the lead atop the NHL's East Division.

Lundqvist told Weekes he feels like he's in roughly the same condition he would be in September or October of a normal NHL calendar and has been training on the ice almost every day since Feb. 23.

"I love the grind, but you love the results from grinding, putting in the work," Lundqvist said. "So if I get an opportunity, I'll put in everything I have, obviously."

Lundqvist signed a one-year, $1.5-million deal with the Capitals in the off-season and was ready to move Washington when he got the news about his condition.

"I'd been aware of a heart condition for 15 years that I had a leaky valve and at some point it needed to be fixed, but over the course of a few months things changed and the leak got worse and my aorta started to get too big and the pressure in the heart was too high," Lundqvist said.

"But all along, I was like, 'This is going to work. We're going to make it work.' … And I get the call from one of the specialists that it was part of the process and it's like, 'I'm sorry, but your tests came back worse than we thought.'"

It's been a difficult road to recovery, but at the end of it, Lundqvist is hoping he can get another shot at Stanley Cup glory.

"I see it. I see it," Lundqvist said. "But in a way, it's kind of out of my control. I still have to listen and talk to the experts. Other than that, it's just be happy."

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