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Zuccarello sad to miss reunion with Rangers, looks ahead to Stars return

Recovering from a broken arm, Tuesday allowed the forward to relive some old times and think about the future

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

The moment he was traded from the New York Rangers to the Dallas Stars, Mats Zuccarello said he made plans for his family to fly to Texas to see him play against his old team.

"Everyone around me and my family was like that's going to be an emotional game and a fun game," Zuccarello said. "It sucks that I can't play, but I'll be watching. Still excited to have the guys here."

Zuccarello, of course, broke his arm in his first game with the Stars on Feb. 24 against Chicago, so he won't get to face the Rangers Tuesday. Still, the presence of his old team and old media pals was an emotional event after the morning skate, and allowed him to relive some old times and think about the future.

"When you have been someplace for eight or nine years, it's to leave your friends and people who have been your family," Zuccarello said. "It's a new beginning for me, and I'm really excited about it, but New York gave me so much and it will always be in my heart."

Video: Zuccarello discusses progress in recovery from injury

Zuccarello went to dinner with some old friends on Monday and visited with trainers and equipment guys on Tuesday, so there was some reminiscing. But as he works to get back from his broken hand (he is one week into a rehab that is scheduled to be four weeks), he said he also is fitting in with his new team.

"At the end of the day, I'm a Dallas Star now and I'm really excited about the future and the team we have here," Zuccarello said. "The first week I've been here has been unbelievable."

While the Stars were on the road, Zuccarello spent time with senior advisor Les Jackson and skills coach Vernon Fiddler. He said he is now getting himself familiar with the Stars trainers and equipment people and went to the doctor Tuesday.

"I was at the doctor today, and he said it was perfect," Zuccarello said. "I can do more with my arm than they expected and stuff like that, so it's good."

Video: DAL@CHI: Zuccarello gets goal, assist in Stars debut

He said he can start skating soon and is hoping for the best in his rehab.

"No pucks, no sticks, just skating," Zuccarello said. "Not the part of what I think is fun about hockey, but it will be good to get on the ice and keep in shape."

While the media from New York prodded him with questions even Stars fans want answered, he joked when he was asked if he thought about his potential UFA status in the summer.

"Not as much as you probably have," Zuccarello said with a wry smile.

Video: Zuccarello arrives to join Stars, meets teammates

Zuccarello could indeed sign a contract extension with the Stars before July 1 or he could test free agency on that day. He said he wants to let things play out before he makes any big decisions. He added, though, that he thought last summer his UFA status could lead to his departure from the Rangers.

"I kind of knew this summer almost that it was going to happen. But when you get closer and closer to it, it becomes a reality," he said. "I think I was kind of - not sulking, but I was sad about it for a long time, even before it happened. So when it really happened, it was almost like I had a tough time for a while and it was almost like you could let your shoulders down and relax. Now that it happened, nothing you can do about it. Just go and have fun."

Stars fans would certainly like to join him in that sentiment.

"I'm just excited to be here right now," Zuccarello said, "and focus on getting healthy and coming back to play in the playoffs."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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