When Mats Zuccarello took a puck to the head in the New York Rangers‘ Game 5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, no one knew the extent of the injury. Media speculated that Zuccarello, who contributed two assists and an invaluable offensive spark in the series, had sustained a concussion. He was soon ruled out of the next round against the Washington Capitals, but there were no further details about his condition.
During the Rangers breakup day on Monday, Zuccarello revealed that he had suffered a brain contusion, and the injury had brought with it serious repercussions.
“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,” he said. “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’m getting better and better.”
Zuccarello said there was “a slim chance” that he could have played in the Stanley Cup Final had the Rangers advanced, and he is expected to make a full recovery. He also expects to be ready for Training Camp.
Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, and Keith Yandle also revealed their respective injuries while the players conversed with media at breakup day. McDonagh entered the locker room on crutches and wearing a walking boot on his right foot; he suffered a fracture in Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and is looking at a four-week recovery time. Staal sustained a hairline fracture in his ankle at the end of the regular season and may need surgery in the offseason. Girardi played through an MCL sprain for the final four games of the postseason; he will undergo a minor procedure over the summer. Yandle suffered a sprained AC joint in his shoulder during the first-round series against the Penguins.
Despite losing Zuccarello and playing four injured defensemen, the Rangers were one period away from returning to the Stanley Cup Final. Had the team been healthy, this could have been their year.