Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Olli Maatta confirmed Thursday that the tumour he had removed from his thyroid gland earlier this month was cancerous.
Maatta underwent successful surgery Nov. 4 and says he wants to return to the Penguins as early as Friday when the Penguins visit the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, Penguins head coach Mike Johnston believes the Jyvaskyla, Finland native is at least five days from getting back into the lineup.
“I want to come back tomorrow,” Maatta told reporters. “But I’ve got to take it easy first. I have to make sure I’m 100 percent and can help the team when I come back.”
The 20-year-old had one goal, five assists, four penalty minutes and a plus-1 rating in 10 games this season prior to his procedure.
“I look at it as a bump on the road,” Maatta added. “It’s really good that we found it early. It hasn’t really bothered me before. It’s not going to bother me again. It’s just another bump in the road. I got over it. I can start playing hockey again.
Last season, Maatta had an impressive rookie campaign registering nine goals, 11 assists in 78 games.