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Sullivan Encouraging, Says Zucker ‘In Much Better Spirits’

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Jason Zucker, Pittsburgh Penguins Kasperi Kapanen Hat Trick

It was a scary injury. Last Thursday in Minnesota, Jason Zucker slammed into the wall as his legs went in different directions, and his right leg buckled as he hit the dasher. After Sidney Crosby and teammates helped Zucker off the ice, all feared the worst.

However, after Zucker posted an optimistic message via social media late Sunday night, head coach Mike Sullivan also offered encouraging news regarding the bad-luck winger on Monday.

“He’s continuing to be evaluated today. We should have more information on that tomorrow…,” Sullivan said. “…I spoke with him this morning, and his spirits were really good this morning. You know, he’s feeling better. We’ll see where it goes. But he was in much better spirits. He was much more encouraged this morning when I saw him.”

Zucker, 30, skated after practice in a tracksuit.

Last Thursday, he had an emotional return to Minnesota, where he played for nine seasons before the Penguins acquired him for a first-round pick, defenseman prospect Calen Addison and Minnesota accepted Alex Galchenyuk’s nearly $5 million salary, too.

Zucker’s Pittsburgh Penguins tenure has been marred by injuries, including a fractured leg last season and core muscle surgery this season. Since arriving in February of 2020, Zucker has played just 85 games. He has missed 56 of the last 126 games.

This season, Jason Zucker has 14 points (6-8-14) in 32 games. He was re-united with Evgeni Malkin in the Penguins’ top-six upon his return. In his absence on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche, Sullivan flipped Jeff Carter to Malkin’s right and Rickard Rakell to Malkin’s left.

Zucker has not yet been placed on IR. On Monday, the Penguins recalled Filip Hallander on an emergency recall basis.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Ryan
Ryan
1 month ago

still sounds like a groin strain.

Zane Gearhart
Zane Gearhart
1 month ago

Why isn’t O’Connor being brought up?

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
1 month ago
Reply to  Zane Gearhart

Hextall in notoriously patient when it comes to bringing up prospects. It is good that he is keeping O’Connor down and letting him get top minutes instead of 5-7 in pittsburgh. That’s probably also why we saw Angello one game and Puustinen one game, etc.

Paul
Paul
1 month ago

Zucker is in great spirits. I’m so glad, I’m so glad, I’m glad, I’m glad, I’m glad. But that’s what Jack Bruce said. . . .

Chase Cranson
Chase Cranson
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

What’s the problem and when os he playing

Lisa McNutt
Lisa McNutt
1 month ago

What is the deal with all this excitement over Zucker’s return? The guy hasn’t been worth a bucket of stripped bolts since he got here.

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Lisa McNutt

I think it says a lot about the alternatives.

moe
moe
1 month ago
Reply to  Lisa McNutt
  • Now, now. Don’t be hard on him. Injuries are not to be blamed on the player. It’s a failed hiring by JR. Just did not work out for the Pens. It happens sometimes.
Uros
Uros
1 month ago

Let’s wait for something official, although optimistic signals abound. We are surely a better team with Zucker than without him. Let’s hope he’ll at least be ready for the playoffs.

Paul
Paul
1 month ago

Hey, look — ZAR scored a goal! #WhoooooWheeeee!

Last edited 1 month ago by Paul
Frank
Frank
1 month ago

There is a certain irony that there is more positive anticipation to the return of Zucker than there was for Malkin. One is a Hall of Fame candidate, the other will be a Hall of Fame visitor. Zucker (when healthy) is definitely an asset. Based on what I read he is a respected teammate . .. and if nothing else I am confident he comes to play every night and performs as well as he can. That said, the Pens really . .. really over paid for him and now they are saddled with a $5 million cap hit. He… Read more »

A. Lifeson
A. Lifeson
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Malkin number of games played over the last 3 years aren’t that much better than Zuch yet gets payed Twice as much against the cap.

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