Monday's deal that sent forward Jason Zucker from the Wild to the Penguins was more than a hockey trade. It was a move that immediately uproots Zucker from his home and family, as he's forced to leave his wife, Minnesota radio host Carly (Aplin) Zucker, and children behind.
"This is going to be tough," Carly said Tuesday, fighting back tears during an appearance with KFAN-FM 100.3's Power Trip morning show. "It's just way more emotional than I thought it would be. I think we all kind of knew it was coming."
Jason was traded to Pittsburgh for Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison and the Penguins' 2020 first-round pick (lottery protected). As soon as he was informed of the trade, he called Carly, who was at Valentine's event.
"I was surrounded by my friends that I made on the team and that was really, really special, and they'll continue to be my friends," said Carly, who admits that life at home suddenly becomes more difficult.
"It just changes a lot at home. Money aside, it's hard to imagine doing life without him here. And he's gone. He left right away. He won't be home again until after the season."
Jason is expected to be on the ice Tuesday night, making his debut with the Penguins against the Tampa Bay Lightning. A 24-hour turnaround that will see him go from a wild card-hopeful team in Minnesota to a Stanley Cup-contender in Pittsburgh, where he'll share the ice with NHL stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, among many others.
"He picked up and he left right away, and to say goodbye to him in that way was hard," said Carly.
The Zuckers' situation doesn't allow Carly to simply pack up and go with her husband. Instead, she'll remain in Minnesota, visiting Pittsburgh as often as possible, a situation that has often been top of mind as Jason's name swirled through trade rumors the past two years.
That personal side of their story was first told last June by Michael Russo of The Athletic, when former Wild General Manager Paul Fenton was reportedly actively shopping Jason.
"He loves Minnesota and the organization that drafted him in the second round nine years ago. And, personally, he especially doesn't want to be traded because his wife and children won't be able to accompany him to any other city. Carly says she would never take Jason's stepdaughter, Sophia, away from her biological father. Carly and Jason have a boy, Hendrix, and infant daughter, Stella, together, so he's always at risk of being separated from his family during hockey season if he were to be traded."
Jason told Russo late Wednesday night that they'll "do what’s best for our kids and for our family," with that discussion happening this summer.
Whatever happens, the Zuckers plan to continue working with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital and maintaining their Minnesota-based #GIVE16 charity.
"It’s been really awesome today to see the outpouring of support for Carly and I and for #GIVE16," Zucker told Russo. "It just shows the fan base that the Wild have here and how great it is. I’m forever grateful to start my career here and just to be a part of it because it really is the 'State of Hockey' for a reason. And the fans here have been incredible to us."
For Carly, she'll continue her career as a radio host with KFAN as "much as I can."
"We'll continue to live life as usual. It's not the end of the world," she said.
Note: Carly Zucker's appearance on the Power Trip Morning Show will be available on-demand here later Tuesday.
UPDATE: Carly Zucker posted this message to her social media followers on Tuesday morning.