There’s tough and then there’s Olli Maatta. The Penguins defenseman will play Tuesday night just two weeks after surgery to remove a tumor.
The 20-year-old Finnish defenseman shocked the hockey world in late October when he revealed he had been diagnosed with a tumor on his thyroid gland. At the time, there was little Maatta could do aside from wait for surgery and hope the tumor was not cancerous.
On Nov. 4, Maatta underwent surgery, and last week he confirmed it was, in fact, a cancerous tumor that doctors had removed. At the outset of the surgery, it was thought Maatta would miss up to a month of action. It’s incredible that Maatta will be back so quickly.
Maatta told the Penguins website on Monday that he was feeling good, but would have to wait until after Tuesday’s morning skate to know whether or not he could suit up as the Penguins visit the Montreal Canadiens. Doctors have given him the go-ahead, and he’ll be back on the blueline.
"Mentally for sure, I want to get out there,” Maatta said. “It's been a couple weeks since I've played, so yeah, I'm hungry there. But I've got to still take it easy, not rush it.”
In 10 games this season, Maatta has one goal and six points and is averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game. The 22nd overall pick in the 2012 draft, Maatta registered 29 points in 78 games last season as a rookie.