Montreal, QC (SportsNetwork.com) - Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta will return to the ice on Tuesday as the Penguins take on the Montreal Canadiens, just two weeks removed from having a cancerous tumor removed from his neck.
Maatta underwent successful surgery on Nov. 4 to remove a tumor in his thyroid gland. The procedure was performed by UPMC head and neck surgeon Dr. Robert Ferris. Tests later determined the growth was malignant.
"I didn't think (my return) would come this quickly," Maatta said following the Penguins' morning skate. "I have to thank the doctors and team staff for doing their best. I'm just excited to be back. Cancer is a pretty scary word. You can't really compare it to other types of cancers. Mine was found early and was really easy to treat. It was just another bump in the road."
The 20-year-old missed only six games, having returned to the rink last Tuesday and engaged in a full practice this past Thursday.
Prior to the health setback, Maatta totaled one goal and five assists in 10 games this season. The Finn was selected No. 22 overall in the 2012 draft and posted nine goals and 29 points in 78 games as a rookie last season.