Mats Zuccarello
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images, AP Photo

The New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden, who does it better than the rest, showcase a heartfelt video tribute for Mats Zuccarello.

Nobody does it better than Madison Square Garden. Nobody.

Pertaining to events, pregame ceremonies and the like, The World’s Most Famous Arena always brings the goods; and on Monday night, another opportunity presented itself.

Beloved former New York Rangers‘ winger, Mats Zuccarello, returned home as a member of the Minnesota Wild. Naturally, the organization’s video tribute sparked a heartfelt moment that was felt on the ice all the way up to where the blue seats used to reside.


Zuccarello, 32, and affectionately known as The Hobbit, registered 113 goals and 239 assists over nine seasons in New York. Standing at just 5-foot-8 (at least on paper), the man’s passion, grit and determination won the hearts of loyal fans from the get-go.

The Norwegian scrapper became an integral part of many deep Stanley Cup Playoff runs with the Rangers, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2014.

His best statistical season came in 2015-16 when he notched 26 goals and 35 assists in 81 games played. A season earlier, after a tremendous regular season that garnered the franchise another Presidents’ Trophy, Zuccarello was hit in the head with a puck in Round 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A serious head injury kept him out for the remainder of the run and still sticks in the craw of the fanbase to this very day (what could have been). The Rangers were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final in seven games.

On Monday night, he returned to the Garden as a member of the Minnesota Wild after finding himself traded to the Dallas Stars a year ago. Henrik Lundqvist, who started the contest, shared dinner with his old friend the night prior.

More than a hockey player, this inspirational figure serves as a reminder. Always getting it done on and off the ice, think New York City itself. New York sports diehards always stand tallest and cheer loudest for the most unsuspecting. While, no doubt, talent deserves its area, it’s the John Starks, Adam Graves and Wayne Chrebet types of the world who capture the greatest affection.

Those who overdeliver, at times, in spite of legendary talent, are forever remembered.

For quite some time, we’ve known Mats Zuccarello belongs in that category. On Monday night, Madison Square Garden and the New York Rangers put a stamp on the obvious thought for the not-so-obvious larger-than-life individual.


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