Fans were thrilled to see Mats Zuccarello zipping around the ice on Thursday for the first time after a serious skull injury last spring. The New York Rangers forward had suffered a serious concussion during the Stanley Cup playoffs last year that resulted in a brain contusion and fractured skull.
Zuccarello was back on the ice for the first time after the injury during the year’s preseason game against Boston Bruins that was held at TD Garden. The final outcome of the game that the Bruins had won in a shootout was just an afterthought for the Rangers as they were delighted to have Zuccarello back in the lineup all geared up for the 2015-16 season.
Rangers manager Jeff Gorton said that the way he got injured last year was terrible, and now seeing him fully recovered is just great. He said that Zuccarello is a big part of the team who is very competitive and has a great sense for hockey. His teammates and coaching staff love him and are happy to have him back with the team.
Last spring during the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Zuccarello was struck in the head by a puck that was struck by teammate Ryan McDonagh. After the harrowing injury, Zuccarello was unable to speak for several days, and that got people wondering whether he would be able to play again.
The Rangers played the rest of the postseason without Zuccarello and eventually lost in the finals of Eastern Conference to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
But Zuccarello surprised everyone when he regained speech and made a speedy recovery. He did a few brief practice sessions with the team, and would have played despite his injuries alongside the team had the Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup finals.
The match on Thursday was only a preseason game, but it proved that Zuccarello is ready to go for the upcoming season. During the game, he even scored a goal and was active throughout the game.
After the game, Zuccarello admitted that his timing and decision-making weren’t perfect. But he was not that worried about it and that it felt nice to be back on the ice promising that his game would improve with time.
Zuccarello’s expectations about himself during the team’s upcoming season are the same as always. He said that he wants to play at the highest level and help the team win games by creating chancing and playing solid two way hockey.
Despite the team’s loss on Thursday, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault seemed satisfied and expects that the team will be ready for the upcoming season. His teammates were happy seeing him healthy and playing together with them.
Zuccarello seems to be focused on the upcoming season and has completely forgotten what happened last spring during the playoff run. Standing in the locker room, Zuccarello said that the first game jitters are now gone and he is anxiously looking forward to the next game.