Mats Zuccarello explains hockey in Norway for the Players’ Tribune

Opportunities weren’t as easy to come by in Norway, so Zuccarello had to really love the game.

When we think hockey, we don’t usually think Norway.

As of this year, the IIHF ranks Norway 11th on the world stage. They don’t typically perform well internationally; they’re one of the hodge podge of countries only in the World Cup via Team Europe. Only two Norwegians played in the NHL last year; before that, from 2011-15, there was just one guy.

Mats Zuccarello.

Zuccarello didn’t have the traditional path to hockey. How could he? He wasn’t from a nation obsessed with it. From the sounds of things, hockey in Norway was much harder to come by when Zuccarello was growing up than it was in the U.S., or even in neighboring Sweden.

Via a Players’ Tribune article, Zuccarello goes into full detail not just on how he was able to keep his love for hockey alive in not-hockey-obsessed Norway, but how he was able to make the NHL through everything - and how he learned to become a great NHL player, at that.

And how now, when the Colorado Avalanche were an inspiration for him in his youth, he’s increased the New York Rangers’ popularity in his hometown.

It’s pretty awesome. Give it a read.