Lundqvist reflects ahead of Rangers jersey retirement: 'I'm just happy with what I got'
"My plan was to play until 41, 42. If I had that chance, I would do it because I still love the game," Lundqvist said during an appearance on the "NHL @TheRink" podcast.
"I have my moments where I'm like, 'Ah, it's too bad I didn't get an opportunity to play more because I love it so much.' But then pretty quickly I move into the grateful phase where I'm just happy with what I got and not what I didn't get."
Lundqvist plans to take his relaxed positive attitude into his jersey retirement ceremony at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
"That place has meant so much to me. I've been so inspired by the building itself and what it means to walk in there every time. ... I felt so alive in that building at times," he reflected.
"If it's a preseason game or Game 7, that pressure is always there, and it was just awesome to feel it."
The 39-year-old spent 15 seasons in the Big Apple, and he's the franchise's leader in games played (887) and wins (459). Lundqvist said he "struggled" to picture himself playing anywhere but New York, but his love for the game pushed him to sign a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals after the Rangers bought out the final year of his contract following the 2019-20 campaign.
However, Lundqvist ended his career having played only for New York.
"In the end, the heart said 'no, it was not meant to be,'" he said. "It's funny how I struggled for such a long time if I should go somewhere else and play or not. The decision was made for me.
"It became symbolic to me, a little bit, the way it happened."
The King has since enjoyed his stint as a studio analyst with MSG Network and admittedly prefers to go off the cuff when it comes to speaking in public. But Friday will be a little different.
"We'll see how it goes. I don't think I’m comfortable winging it on Friday. I need to prepare something," he said.
Lundqvist's No. 30 will be the 11th jersey to reach the rafters in Rangers history. The ceremony will kick off before New York's contest against the Minnesota Wild.