Two weeks ago, Olli Maatta underwent surgery to remove a cancerous thyroid tumor.
Tonight, he’ll be back playing hockey.
Maatta confirmed he’d be in the lineup Tuesday night when the Penguins take on the Habs at the Bell Center. The development comes during a rollercoaster month in which the Finnish blueliner went public with his diagnosis, yet continued to play right up until his Nov. 4 surgery (his last contest was on Nov. 1 against Buffalo).
“I feel normal,” Maatta said, per NHL.com. “I feel like I did two weeks ago, two months ago, a year ago.”
Following the procedure, doctors confirmed the tumor was indeed cancerous though, prior to surgery, had told Maatta he was unlikely to require radiation or chemotherapy. Maatta also defied the original timetable for return — set at four weeks — and, all told, will end up missing just six games of action.
For Pittsburgh, getting the 20-year-old back will be a lift emotionally, but will also bolster the club’s defense. Maatta was averaging nearly 20 minutes per game prior to surgery and had racked up a goal and six points in 10 games.