Mats Zuccarello (Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
New York Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello suffered a fractured skull and brain contusion in the first round of the playoffs that resulted in him losing feeling to his arm and needing speech therapy. The Norwegian hockey star is ready to get back on the ice, though, and will participate in a charity game next Friday.
Following the first round of the post-season and what was a suspected concussion, New York Rangers right winger Mats Zuccarello didn’t play much in the post-season. When the Blueshirts’ season was ended in the Eastern Conference final, it was revealed Zuccarello’s injury was much more serious: a fractured skull and brain contusion that left him unable to speak, move his arm and put him in hospital for a few days.
“I don’t know what you guys know, but there was a small fracture in my head. I lost my talking and some feeling in my arm and stuff. I was in the hospital for three days,” Zuccarello said of the injury according to the New York Daily News. “I couldn’t talk for a while. I had a contusion, some blood in my brain. That affects a lot. I went to speech therapy. I’m getting much better. I couldn’t say a word for four days… I feel much better and I’m getting better and better.”
The Norwegian hockey star is about to get back on the ice, though, in what will be his first game action since suffering the gruesome injury. According to Norway’s TV2.no, Zuccarello will suit up and skate in a charity game on June 19. The contest will be the first time Zuccarello has seen the ice in a game environment since the injury, which occurred more than a month ago in a first-round tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I can confirm that Mats makes comeback on ice in the game along with several of his good friends from Rangers,” Kevin Skabo, Zuccarello’s manager, told TV2. “It's going to be a big party in DNB Arena, and Mats (is) very happy that he can make a contribution on the ice. It is also nice for everyone who has secured tickets and get to experience his comeback in Stavanger. Ticket sales have been very good, and now I hope Mats their own clean bill allows DNB Arena will be sold out.”
Joining Zuccarello at the charity game will be teammates Derrick Brassard, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin.
When Zuccarello first revealed his injury following the Rangers’ Game 7 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, it was met with speculation that it could be months before he got back to full health and was able to continue his career. Thankfully, however, it appears his return will be much sooner than most expected.
During the Eastern Conference final, Zuccarello took part in game day skates but his status did not change from day-to-day. That he’s playing in the charity contests – there will be one game against a celebrity team and one against a club team – means Zuccarello has likely been cleared for action.