Coincidentally, Mats Zuccarello was back in his old home arena Madison Square Garden on the same day as his best friend Henrik Lundqvist was to pay tribute.
The two played together for nine years in the New York Rangers and became close friends. In 2019, Zuccarello left New York, and the following year, the Swedish goalkeeper said goodbye to the club after fifteen years. Last year he had to quit after a heart defect.
Night to Saturday Norwegian time, Lundqvist’s kit number – 30 – was “protected” and a large banner with the number and name was hung under the roof, as the club does with its greatest legends.
– It was a good ceremony. Taking the victory here was a bonus, Zuccarello said at a press conference after the match.
Lundqvist used the opportunity to thank everyone who was there for him throughout his Rangers career.
– I am so happy to be able to share this moment with my family and friends, but most of all I am happy to have the opportunity to thank you. You have supported me throughout my career. It has been a wonderful experience, which has given me so much joy, and it has definitely meant a lot to make my journey so unique. Thank you !, said the Swede.
The comrades gave each other a good hug after the ceremony.
When Lundqvist was hailed as a hero, Zuccarello was received as one. The Rangers supporters expressed their love for the Norwegian star player.
Several times when he was shown on the big screen during the match, the audience exclaimed “ZUUUUUCCC”, to express his love. The Norwegian had a good relationship with the supporters and they have obviously not forgotten the Norwegian magician.
– We had a special relationship for nine years. I’m in a good place now and love it. Now I get the best of both worlds, said Zuccarello.
During the settlement, Lundqvist was interviewed on the American broadcast. Then a special moment arose.
When Zuccarello got the puck, the Swede said: “Do not let that man score.” A second later, the puck was in goal.
New club record
When Frederick Gaudreau won the match for Minnesota Wild, it was after a smart pass from the Norwegian 34-year-old.
Not only did it send Wild into the lead. Zuccarello’s goal scorer also set a club record.
Never before has any Minnesota Wild player scored two or more goals in six games in a row.
– That he at the age of 34 is better than ever and sets new records for himself and for the club tells what a fantastic athlete he is. He now has 30 points in the last 22 games! All the tributes he now receives in the NHL are fully deserved, and here it is only a matter of nominating Zuccarello as this year’s Norwegian athlete already, says TV 2’s ice hockey expert Jesper Hoel.
It was also the Norwegian’s tenth game in a row with goal points. He leads it up to a shared second place, along with several players, in club history. The record for the number of games in a row with goal points is held by Mikael Granlund. He had twelve games in a row with goal points in the 2016/17 season.
A special relationship
Earlier in the day, TV 2 was present when Zuccarello at a press conference put into words what the friendship with the Swedish goalkeeper has meant.
– He was here from day one. He took care of me, first and foremost. His wife and children .., We have been together for nine years here. He was a role model before he came here. And when he came here, it is clear that one looks up to him. You have learned a lot. He has meant a lot, he said.
Zuccarello has previously described their friendship in this way:
– Usually when we went out on something together, he came in a suit and I with sweatpants. He has lived under enormous pressure for many years. I’m more of a joker, while he’s more serious, so I think maybe he likes me, and I like him. I think we complemented each other that way.
The Norwegian was in a good mood and used the opportunity to pay tribute to himself. You can see it here: