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Mats Zuccarello lost ability to speak after head injury

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Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello reveals Monday that he sustained a small fracture in his head and lost some feeling in his arm after being hit in the head with a puck shot by teammate Ryan McDonagh in Game 5 of the first round.

It turns out Mats Zuccarello’s injury was a whole lot worse than just a bump on the head.

The Rangers forward revealed at the team’s breakup day on Monday afternoon that the puck he took to the side of the head from a Ryan McDonagh slap shot in Game 5 of the first round series against the Penguins resulted in a serious head contusion that put him in the hospital for three days. He even temporarily lost his ability to speak.

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“I don’t know what you guys know, but there was a small fracture in my head. I lost my (ability to) talk and some feeling in my arm and stuff. I was in the hospital for three days,” Zuccarello 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 feel much better and I’m getting better and better.”

Zuccarello, 27, had resumed skating in a non-contact jersey during the Eastern Conference finals, but says it was highly unlikely he would have been ready to return for the Cup Final if the Rangers had advanced past the Lightning.

“There was a small chance I might play more this year. But probably not. There’s no reason to speculate now,” he said. “In the beginning I couldn’t talk. It was scary. But the doctors were really good and made sure I knew I’d be healthy. I was just happy to recover quickly.”

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Despite the scary injury, the Norwegian expects to be ready for the start of next season.

While Zuccarello couldn’t play in the conference final, three Blueshirts defenseman did despite serious injuires.

As coach Alain Vigneault announced Friday night, captain Ryan McDonagh was playing with a broken right foot he fractured in Game 4. His partner, Dan Girardi, suffered a Grade 1 MCL sprain in the same game while defenseman Marc Staal was playing with a hairline fracture in his ankle he suffered during the regular season.

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