Rangers' Mats Zuccarello discusses skull fracture, couldn't speak for 4 days

Monday, June 1, 2015
New York Rangers Mats Zuccarello speaks in the locker room at the team's Westchester training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y., Monday, June 1, 2015.

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello could not speak for four days after being hit in the head by a shot in the opening round of the playoffs and sustaining a small skull fracture and some bleeding.

Three days after the Rangers lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Zuccarello discussed his injury for the first time on Monday.

"I was in the hospital for three days," Zuccarello said after meeting with coach Alain Vigneault on the team's breakup day at their Westchester training facility.

"I couldn't talk for a while, had a contusion, some blood in my brain. That affects a lot. Now I go to speech therapy. I'm getting much better. I couldn't say a word for four days. I feel much better."

Zuccarello was hit on the side of the head by teammate Ryan McDonagh's shot in the series-clinching Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 24. He missed the last two rounds of the playoffs and said it was unlikely that he would have returned had the Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup final.

The 27-year-old Norwegian also said he lost some feeling in his arm after the injury.

"... I lost everything," he said. "It was scary but the doctors were really good and made sure I knew that I was going to be healthy. After a while I was just happy to recover quickly."

Zuccarello, who had 15 goals and 34 assists in the regular season, believes he will be ready to play next season.

The Rangers, who missed going to the Cup final for the second straight year, had other injuries. Defenseman Keith Yandle sprained a shoulder in the first round against Pittsburgh.

Defenseman Marc Staal sustained a hairline fracture of his ankle late in the regular season and did not miss a playoff game. McDonagh broke his right foot in Game 4 against the Lightning and did not miss a game. Defenseman Dan Girardi also had an ankle injury.