Zuccarello lost ability to speak after taking puck to head

Rangers Mats Zuccarello suffered some head trauma when he was hit by a puck, but is likely to make a full recovery.
Alex Trautwig/Getty Imagew

By Mike Cole

New York Rangers forward Mats Zucarrello suffered one of scariest hockey injuries in recent memories, which certainly is saying a lot.

Zuccarello missed a good chunk of the Rangers’ playoff to the Eastern Conference finals after he was struck in the head with a shot from teammate Ryan McDonagh in New York’s first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

As you could see in the video, Zuccarello didn’t go down or anything — he was able to skate off on his own power — but eventually left the game. He didn’t return to the game or to the Rangers for the rest of their playoff run which ended Friday night with a Game 7 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

At Rangers breakup day Monday, Zuccarello revealed to reporters that he suffered a small fracture to his head which came with a few scary side effects.

“I don’t know what you guys know, but there was a small fracture in my head. I lost my (ability to) talk and some feeling in my arm and stuff,” Zuccarello told reporters, according to the New York Daily News. “I was in the hospital for three days. 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.”

Somewhat miraculously, Zuccarello actually returned to skating during the Tampa Bay series, which gave at least a glimmer of hope he might be able to return should the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup Final. That would have been unlikely, Zuccarello admitted Monday.

“There was a small chance I might play more this year. But probably not,” he said, per the Daily News. “There’s no reason to speculate now. In the beginning I couldn’t talk. It was scary. But the doctors were really good and made sure I knew I’d be healthy. I was just happy to recover quickly.”

He’s expected to make a full recovery.

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