The Resurgence of Mats Zuccarello
“ZUCC” chants can be heard in every arena during the NHL season. Nicknamed “The Hobbit” by Blueshirts fans, Mats Zuccarello has always been a fan favorite. Standing at just 5’7, he’s one of the shortest players in the NHL. Even though size may be a weakness, Mats plays with a ton of heart and grit.
He plays with a certain edge that fans have fell in love with. His journey to the National Hockey League is a success story on its own. Since he played most of his career overseas and was never drafted, he wasn’t on the radar amongst NHL teams. After putting on quite a performance in the Olympics, Zuccarello was ready to make the jump.
On December 8, 2010, the New York Rangers signed him to a NHL contract. The Rangers wanted to see if he could adjust to North American play, so he started his career in the AHL. Despite dominating in the American Hockey League, Tortorella was unconvinced of Zuccarello’s play. The Norwegian winger only played in 67 games in 3 seasons with the New York Rangers, the rest were played with the Hartford Wolfpack.
After John Tortorella was fired, New York agreed to a one year deal with Mats. With a new coach, different linemates, and more playing time, Zuccarello used this opportunity as a fresh start. He took the situation and ran with it. Since Alain Vigneault’s hiring, Zuccarello has been a lineup regular. But that’s not the only thing, just as his career was taking off, he faced another setback.
Unfortunately, on April 24, 2015, during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mats Zuccarello was struck in the head by a Ryan McDonagh slapshot. He suffered a brain contusion and a fractured skull that made him miss the remainder of the playoffs. Zuccarello spent 3 days in the hospital.
Unable to speak and temporarily losing feeling in his arm, many fans didn’t expect Mats to make a full recovery. Injuries like these are usually career-ending, but that didn’t stop the winger from returning to the ice. He was determined to return to the Rangers for the 2015-2016 season. Coming back from a severe injury, the Blueshirts faithful were unsure what they were going to see from him.
He started the season red hot, leading the team in goals and assists midway through the season. During the Rangers run for the playoffs, Zuccarello never ceased to amaze the fans. Whether it was making a great pass, dangling through the defense, or scoring a highlight reel goal, Mats was one of New York’s best forwards.
The Norwegian continued his success throughout the year with linemate, Derick Brassard, and finished with a career high in goals (26) and points (61). A career season following an injury like that is an absolute tremendous story. To top it off, Zuccarello accepted the Rangers Masterson award, and was named a finalist for the NHL’s Masterson Trophy.
He’s a marvelous role model for everyone, and he deserves acknowledgement for all of his hard work. Hopefully Zuccarello is able to continue his success, as Ranger fans want to see him pursue a Stanley Cup in New York.
Posted on June 14, 2016, in In the Crease, Uncategorized and tagged Madison Square Garden, Mats Zuccarello, Mats Zuccarello injury, MSG, New York Rangers, New York Rangers blog, NHL, NY Rangers, NYR, Rangers, Rangers blog, Zuccarello Masterson. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.