It has not been easy for Rangers fans let alone Rangers players to really accept this trade and move on from the fact that Mats Zuccarello may never and probably will never again be a New York Ranger.
Zuccarello spent nine years with the Rangers, an undrafted free agent who played his first game as a Blueshirt in 2010. Five years earlier the Rangers chose Henrik Lundqvist with their 7th round pick in 2005. Lundqvist has been with the Rangers ever since. Along the way he has seen many defenseman in front of him, been around a lot of different coaches and has played with a ton of players up until this point. A 14-year professional and someone most fans know to be a very competitive and serious guy. Lundqvist is the back bone of this Rangers franchise and has been for quite sometime now. But one other player that is essentially the 1A when it comes to favorite Rangers since 2005 is Mats Zuccarello.
Zuccarello played 509 games with the Rangers and 509 games alongside Henrik Lundqvist. The two host a charity game together and have been known to be best friends for the better of Zuccarello’s nine year career. When the trade speculation surfaced Lundqvist spoke on the issue about how difficult it would be to see his long-time teammate but more importantly friend leave him. As the days went on and the news simmered down, it seemed like things were looking like the two would stay together, at least they hoped.
It is obviously a lot easier to cope with the fact of Zuccarello leaving when it does not actually happen but it is difficult to put into words what it is like with Zuccarello really gone now. And clearly Lundqvist struggled as he choked up during a post game interview and could not finish the reporters question.
This is difficult for any fan to watch and especially Rangers fans. The only time, I could recall Lundqvist showing emotion like this is during a tough Stanley Cup final loss or Eastern Conference final loss but nothing to this extent.
Zuccarello and Lundqvist shared many great moments together from the seven straight playoff appearances, President Trophy in 2014-15, the Eastern Conference finals back to back years and a Stanley Cup loss in 2014. The two have shared the good, the bad and everything in between. But more importantly they were known for their bond off the ice and in the locker room that many fans would not understand nor see.
It is tough for Rangers to see their favorite player walk away after 9.5 years but it is even tougher for Lundqvist to see his best friend walk away after all the memories and times together. Whatever Lundqvist is feeling is something not many fans or players can probably relate too.