Olli Maatta returns to Penguins lineup two weeks after removal of cancerous tumor

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Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images
Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

It was only two weeks ago that 20-year old Olli Mattaa had a cancerous tumor removed from his neck. The outlook from the beginning was good, with doctors saying he would likely return to the lineup within a month.

Maatta confirmed after the Penguins' morning skate in Montreal that he'll be back on the blueline Tuesday night versus the Canadiens.

“I didn’t think it’d be this quick,” Maatta said, “but I have to thank the doctors and team staff for doing their best.”

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“I feel the same as I did two weeks ago, two months ago, a year ago. I feel normal.”

Penguins head coach Mike Johnston said that Maatta could have returned a few days earlier, but wanted to regain his quickness before committing himself to play again. He skated with Christian Ehrhoff on the second pairing, meaning Robert Bortuzzo was back to being the odd-man out.

Thankfully, team doctors caught Maatta's tumor early and he only needed to miss six games. It's been 22 days since the Penguins announced that he was undergoing surgery to the remove the tumor. Not the easiest 22 days for the young Finn, I'm sure, but that's all in the past now.

“Now I don’t have to worry about it anymore,” he said. “I can just focus on hockey again.” 

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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