Mats Zuccarello is the heartbeat of the New York Rangers. But when the team was struggling, he had concerns that he might be the one to get traded.
For eight years, Mats Zuccarello has been the lifeline of the Rangers. He is the smallest player on the team, but don’t tell him that. He plays with a passion that is hard to replicate. Zuccarello will stand up to anyone, as was the case when Zuccarello battled Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning two weeks ago.
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) November 3, 2017
So why would “Zucc” think he might be the forward the Rangers would be moving?
At the time of the rumors of trades and firings, the Rangers were 3-7-2, last place in the conference. At that moment almost everyone on the team thought they could be traded. Even Mats Zuccarello himself.
Zuccarello has had a fair season so far. He started out slow but, 18 games in, has 13 points on the year (three goals, 10 assists). But his numbers do not reflect what he means to this Rangers team. He was named alternate captain prior to the start of the season and is a leader of the team on and off the ice.
With all of the accolades and responsibility he gets with the Rangers, he still was concerned that the only team he has played for in the NHL would trade him.
Mats Zuccarello got nervous about rumors of NYR trading him. His agent told him he's not going anywhere. https://t.co/U6kpW2vVnS
— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) November 12, 2017
Blueshirt Banter’s Adam Herman tweeted a story coming from the Norwegian website, abctheater.no. The story says that Zuccarello recently had dinner with his agent, who told Zuccarello that he had received assurances from Ranger management that they have no plans to trade him.
The rumors of Alain Vigneault being fired and Zuccarello possibly being moved caused his family from Norway to call with concern for him.
“Everyone at home called and asked if I should be traded and then I just said I had not heard anything. Then my agent was here after the game, and then I asked him,” said Zuccarello. “Over the last two weeks, the Rangers have been playing better hockey. I think we have a good game of four runs [lines] that work well. That is why it is positive that we continue to win.”
The Florida trip to play the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers was a turning point for the team, “I think that the trip to Florida was important. We got out and have dinner together and been a little away from New York.” Zuccarello said.
Zuccarello believed the team itself changed as his buddy, Henrik Lundqvist, found his game once again. “Henke” [Hank] has been better. He was not at his best. We have had some new players who have come a little more into it.” Zuccarello said of his teammates.
Now with the Rangers enjoying a six-game winning streak, the rumors of Alain Vigneault being fired have all but gone away, now Mats Zuccarello now can relax. With his agent confirming Zuccarello is not going anywhere, Mats can get back to his job. There is a lot of work to be done.
Though the winning streak has turned things around, the Rangers are in eighth place in the conference which is only good for the last playoff spot (the second wild-card position). They play in the toughest division in the National Hockey League so Zuccarello and his Ranger teammates need to focus on the team now and not what might have been.
For the time being, all is great in the land of the Rangers. Winning will do that but whether the team wins or losses Zuccarello should rest easy knowing that he is staying in New York. Well staying for now anyway.
The Rangers will attempt to get their seventh win in a row on Wednesday night when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.