Mats Zuccarello (r.) returned to the Rangers after recovering from a serious brain injury during last year’s playoffs.
Mats Zuccarello’s incredible resilience and passion for his teammates and hockey have earned him this season’s nomination for the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy from the Rangers chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
The Masterton is awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. All PHWA chapters nominate one player from each of the NHL’s 30 clubs before voting for an overall winner.
Dominic Moore was the last Ranger to receive the Masterton in 2014.
Zuccarello, 28, suffered a skull fracture, brain contusion, brain bleeding and stroke after being hit in the head with a puck on April 24, 2015. Teammates cried with Zuccarello in the hospital, fearing for his life. He required speech therapy to speak again.
Zuccarello’s charity work overseas makes him an attractive candidate for the award.
But Zuccarello recovered, hosted his second annual charity game/dinner to benefit Right to Play, visited Tanzania (East Africa) in August to see the impact, and resumed an improbable career for a right wing generously listed at 5-7, 179 pounds.
Zuccarello is a popular teammate with contagious enthusiasm for hockey. The highest-scoring Norwegian in NHL history is a top scorer and engine of a perennial top team since signing as an undrafted free agent on May 26, 2010.