NHL regular season edges closer to start

2020-12-21 12:10:56

The National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association have reached a tentative agreement to play a 56-game regular season, starting on Jan 13. Terms of the deal, reached on the weekend, are pending a vote by the league's board of governors and the NHLPA. Games will be within realigned divisions, including one comprised of Canada's seven teams. Star goalie Henrik Lundqvist will sit out the upcoming NHL season because of a heart condition, announcing the news a little more than two months after signing for the Washington Capitals. AP When the pucks start flying, don't look for Henrik Lundqvist to be stopping any for the Washington Capitals. The superstar goaltender from Sweden revealed in a Twitter video on Friday that a heart condition will keep him sidelined for the entire season. "Today is a very tough and emotional day for me," the 38-year-old said. "For several weeks now, I have been undergoing different types of tests related to a heart condition. After lots of discussions with doctors around the country and finally receiving the last results earlier this week, I unfortunately won't be able to join the team this year. "I now need to continue to address and fix these issues." Lundqvist signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Washington on Oct 9 after being bought out by the New York Rangers on Sept 30. Selected by the Rangers in the seventh round of the 2000 draft, Lundqvist was 459-310-96 with a 2.43 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and 64 shutouts in 887 games with New York. He is sixth in NHL history in wins, seventh in saves and 16th in shutouts. He won the Vezina Trophy as the best NHL goalie in 2011-12 and has been a finalist four other times. "The Washington Capitals are supportive of Henrik's decision to step away from hockey at this time due to his heart condition," the franchise said in a statement. "Our players' health is of the utmost importance, and we stand behind Henrik's decision. We want to wish him and his family all the best moving forward." Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said earlier this month that Lundqvist would compete in training camp with 23-year-old Russian Ilya Samsonov, who pushed Braden Holtby for playing time as a rookie last season, to be Washington's No 1 goalie. Holtby, who became a free agent in September, signed a two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Oct 9. Meanwhile, Jaromir Jagr, a former teammate of Lundqvist with the Rangers, started his 33rd professional hockey season on the weekend, suiting up for Kladno in the Czech Republic. The 48-year-old, whose 1,921 points are second only to Wayne Gretzky in NHL history, last played in North America on Dec 31, 2017, for the Calgary Flames. "I can't say how long I want to keep playing," Jagr said in November. "The game is getting more difficult. I think I kind of lost the drive when I wanted to prove that I'm still capable of getting better. I feel a lack of motivation to keep playing, though this year is definitely not the last in my career." Jagr made his pro debut with Kladno in 1988-89 and played 24 NHL seasons, starting with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990-91. He also played two seasons in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League. Selected fifth overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1990 NHL daft, Jagr is first in NHL history in game-winning goals (135), second in points (1,921), third in goals (766), third in games (1,733), fifth in assists (1,155) and fifth in points in the Stanley Cup playoffs (201). He won the Stanley Cup twice with the Penguins (1991, 1992) and the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1998-99. He led the NHL in scoring five times (1995, 1998-2001) and was named to the First All-Star Team seven times.