Mats Zuccarello is one of New York Rangers’ most popular players. In a radio podcast interview with Norwegian reporter Roy Kvatningen last month, Zuccarello expressed his feelings as the final year of his contract is set to expire at the end of this season. New York’s Most Popular Ice Warrior – Norwegian Mats Zuccarello – is it time to leave the Rangers?
He is described as a player who goes “above and beyond the call of duty” on the team, and has lead the team in points 4 of the last 5 seasons. In his native Norway he is even more popular where he has a rock-star status.
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“A trade appears to be most likely, I guess I’m prepared for it, I’m just waiting for it to happen. It’s a tough spot to be in, if I’m being honest,” said Zuccarello in the podcast. And it seems he doesn’t fit the same way he did in the past.
Zuccarello is the most successful N.H.L. player to come out of Norway, a country of less than six million people. The 31-year-old has been a fan-favorite, a New York Rangers employee since the 2010 season. For nine seasons he has dazzled the fans with impossible passes, big-time goals and a love for New York City and its Rangers fans.
New York’s Most Popular Ice Warrior – Norwegian Mats Zuccarello
No one has been working as hard or is as smart as Zuc. His freezeout-shootout-style, his playmaking (unselfish often enough to the detriment of the play when he doesn’t shoot), and his grit should make him quite a valuable asset. However, entering the last year of his contract, it’s unlikely he’ll fetch a something at the moment, but teams will be calling about him in the coming months.
Zuccarello, a 5-foot 7-inch forward from the Oslo suburb of Loren, has been beating the odds his entire career. He was one of only two Norwegians to play in the N.H.L. last season. He has excelled at every stop and gave his blood and almost his career away in a game 5 playoff match against the Pittsburgh Penguins when a Ryan McDonagh slapshot hit him in the head, the results left him unable to speak for a few days. As always, he battled to get healthy and back in the lineup.
The Rangers in a rebuilding mode
However, his career with the Rangers may soon be over since the team at the moment is very much in a rebuild mode. The Rangers are also playing in a much different, upstart environment – one that Zuc probably isn’t accustomed to. The Rangers will probably let Zuccarello go.
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They did the same thing in 1994 trading fan-favorite Mike Gartner at the trade deadline and the Rangers went on to Stanley Cup glory.
New York’s Most Popular Ice Warrior – Norwegian Mats Zuccarello, written by Tor Kjolberg