(Reuters) - Washington Capitals goalie Henrik Lundqvist is to undergo open heart surgery, he said on Monday
The 38-year-old Swede, who enjoyed huge success with the New York Rangers before signing with the Capitals in October, had previously announced he would sit out the upcoming NHL season due to a heart condition.
"Last 3 weeks my focus has shifted from training camp and the upcoming season to my health and what I can and can't do," Lundqvist posted on Twitter.
"Scheduled for an open heart surgery now - aortic valve replacement, aortic root and ascending aortic replacement, to be more exact.
"We all have our mountains to climb. Staying positive here and set on the road to recovery."
The Rangers bought out the final year of Lundqvist's contract in September, ending the Swede's 15-season run as the face of the NHL's most valuable franchise. He later signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Capitals.
"The Capitals and the entire hockey world are with you Hank, and wish you a speedy recovery," the Capitals wrote on Twitter.
Lundqvist holds over 50 Rangers franchise records, including the all-time mark for wins, appearances by a goalie, shutouts, playoff appearances and playoff wins.
Known as "The King", Lundqvist also won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender for the 2011-12 season and was a finalist for the award in four other years.
Lundqvist, who helped Sweden claim the Olympic gold medal in 2006, has earned more career NHL wins (459) than any other non-North American born goaltender and reached the 400-win mark faster than any other goaltender.
Lundqvist's playing time decreased last season with the emergence of rookie Igor Shesterkin.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)