Despite having to miss out on the postseason, after sustaining a severe head injury in the fifth game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello will return to the ice on Friday for his charity match at DNB Arena in Stavanger, Norway, sponsored by Right to Play, a global organization using sports to enhance child development in disadvantaged regions of the world.
As Norway’s top-paid athlete—earning approximately $3.5 million a year—Zuccarello has already helped raise more than $1.3 million for the organization from last year’s match, according to Norway’s TV2. Not to mention, this year Zuccarello plans on getting a little help from some of his fellow Blueshirts, including Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, Carl Hagelin and Kevin Hayes.
For this year’s event, there will be two matchups. The first will feature a bevy of Norwegian celebrities competing in a friendly warm-up match, before the main event, when Zuccarello and company will join with some of Norway’s elite hockey players as they go head-to-head with the home team, the Stavanger Oilers. As if that weren’t enough, the Oslo-based pop duo Nico & Vinz will be performing during the intermission.
Before signing with the Rangers in 2010, Zuccarello began his career at just 18-years-old, playing in the GET-ligaen—the Norwegian professional hockey league—for the Frisk Asker hockey club. After three seasons in Norway, Zucc would go on to play in the Swedish Hockey League until 2010, when he was signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Rangers.