Team Norway announced, from Sochi, Russia, today that Mats Zuccarello would not play against Team Russia this evening in their elimination game. The team doctor reported a “hand injury” but there is no information regarding the timing, the cause, or the severity of the injury. The Norwegian team, without their top player, was no match for the Russian team and was eliminated from the Olympic tournament.
Zuccarello is the only Norwegian national player currently active on an NHL roster. Outside of the Olympics, Zuccarello is also the team leader in points for the New York Rangers. Before the Olympic break Zuccarello was in the midst of a six game point streak, during which time he totaled eight points. The undeniable chemistry between Zuccarello and his line mate, Derick Brassard, has translated to the score sheet for both players. Brassard also registered eight points in the last six games before the Olympic break in a nearly identical fashion as Zuccarello’s points.
If this hand injury is serious enough to keep Zuccarello out of the lineup after the Olympic break, there could be serious fallout regarding NHL players competing in the Olympics four years from now. Perhaps the new CBA should include a clause not requiring NHL teams to pay a player who sustains an injury as a result of playing in a game outside of the NHL. Currently players are not allowed to even lace up skates outside of set practices, games, or specific team sponsored events. Hopefully, we see the “Bronx Zucc” back in action for the New York Rangers without missing a single game.