Rangers Reactions: Goodbye Mats Zuccarello

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The New York Rangers are a historic franchise that prides itself in putting forth the best of the best on the ice.  As you all know by now, Mats Zuccarello was dealt, after weeks of speculation, to the Dallas Stars for a conditional 2nd and 3rd round pick.

A flood of emotion and sentimentality ran through Social Media and Rangerstown as one of the franchise’s most beloved players is on his way out of NY. All of it, is deserved, as Mats Zuccarello defined what it meant to be a New York Ranger.

It seems like yesterday, the small Norwegian forward burst onto the scene in NY. Scoring his first goal against Carolina in OT, then notching a few nifty shootout goals that had us all on our feet. Mats Zuccarello made it known that he’s not a fluke and over the years, we got to witness this in action as he went from fringe forward to team leader while being revered by all of Rangerstown.

Every single night, whenever he stepped on the ice, he put his all out there. Smaller than most, his energy and extra effort made up for what he lacked in height. A massively talented forward with incredible vision on the ice, Zuccarello made those better around him. Don’t think so? Ask Mika Zibanejad, Benoit Pouliot, Derick Brassard, Rick Nash and Chris Kreider and they could probably tell you otherwise. Each of those players were given a boost by having Mats Zuccarello on their wings.

Night in and night out, he increased their chances to win. The compete level this man brought was seen and appreciated by all those who root for the Rangers, and nothing was sweeter when a collective group of 18,000 plus at MSG would chant “ZUUUUUUUUUUUC” in unison.

“Those aren’t boo’s, those are Zucc’s, Zuuc’s!” – Sam Rosen

Sam Rosen’s usual exclamation of the sound emanating form the Garden has become a a calling card for Ranger fans over the last few years as Rangerstown would come together to gleefully cheer on Mats Zuccarello. Every contending team boasts heart and soul players, and Mats Zuccarello was the definition of heart and soul for the New York Rangers over the last few years. He put it all on the line on the ice and endeared himself to us all.

Coming up clutch in numerous situations, Zuccarello came through in big spots when the Rangers needed it the most, including scoring two goals against the Montreal Canadiens that sealed their fate back in the 2017 playoffs. He was also a noted presence during the Rangers’ playoff runs over the years.

Added to his tremendous skill is his leadership qualities. After having a rough go in his first half of his Rangers tenure, Zuccarello beat the odds and stuck with the big club for good after 2013. On the ice and off, he displayed his strong character, class and strength, all of which were noted by everyone who he interacted with, including the fans. All of these qualities that he exhibited just made us love him more.

His toughness and determination also came through when he dealt with life or death implications. Game 5 of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs versus Pittsburgh, Zuccarello was jostling with a Penguins player in front of Henrik Lundqvist when a Ryan McDonagh slap shot hit Zuccarello on the left side of his head as he went down. With 3:58 remaining in the first period of that game, he left and didn’t return.

He was admitted to the hospital and was revealed to have sustained a brain contusion. The injury was serious enough where he lost the ability to speak at some point. His future in hockey was questioned.

Zuccarello said he suffered a brain contusion, had bleeding on the brain and had a hairline fracture of his skull. He did not suffer a concussion. He spent three days in a hospital and only began talking after four days with the help of speech therapy, which he is still undergoing. Zuccarello also said he had initially lost some feeling in his arm.

“Of course, yeah,” Zuccarello said at the Rangers’ breakup day when asked if he was scared. “In the beginning I couldn’t talk. I lost everything. It was scary, but the doctors have been really good and made sure I knew I was gonna be healthy.” New York Daily News  

Regardless of the circumstances, he was able to fully recover from this serious injury and returned to the Rangers lineup showing a huge feat of strength and determination. To boot, he led the team in scoring in his return. His hard work and perseverance did not go unnoticed as he was awarded the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award (an award he’s won three times previously), as well as a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy that summer.

TO READ MORE ABOUT THE INJURY CLICK HERE

So, now as the Rangers are rebuilding, a lot of the fan favorites have gone to the way side, and sadly, the time has come for Mats Zuccarello to make his exit.

As much as we would’ve loved to see him stick around, all good things must come to an end. Whether it was now or during the summer, it was inevitable. Either way, as he leaves, we are left with the incredible memories and lasting impressions he left on all of us.

Day in and day out, Mats Zuccarello made it easier to root for the Rangers, as gave it his all. His effort, love of the game, love for the fans, along with his humble attitude was truly a representation of what it means to be a New York Ranger. So, I speak for myself and every other Ranger fan out there in saying that you will be missed. Thank you, to Mats Zuccarello, for giving us so much to root for and enjoy while watching the Rangers.

As Michael Scott said as he was leaving The Office, “Goodbyes Stink”