Instagram/Mats Zuccarello

Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello

Trades happen in hockey. The NHL is a business. The Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers get that.

But for two particular players such generic phrases will not ease the pain of separation. For the first time, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello will be on opposite sides in a playoff series. The NHL's greatest bromance will have to endure the most heated setting the sport has to offer.

Brassard and Zuccarello are both 29 -- they were born 21 days apart. Zuccarello, a Norweigian, played for the Rangers from 2010-2012 before heading to Russia for a year. He re-signed with the team late in the 2012-13 season. It was around this time that Brassard, a Canadian and the sixth overall pick by the Blue Jackets in 2006, was traded to the Rangers.

In 2013-14, their first full season together, Brass and Zuc helped lead the Rangers to a Stanley Cup Final appearance. The following season, the Rangers won the Presidents' Trophy and reached the Eastern Conference Finals. In 2015-16, they were the Rangers' top two scorers. Brassard and Zuccarello, with their fun-loving spirits on the ice, established themselves as fan favorites at Madison Square Garden, but the experience ended last July when Brassard was traded to Ottawa.

In their three and a half years as teammates, Brassard and Zuccarello kept their friendship documented on social media:



I guess no one else wanted to see the ninja turtles tonite! @matszuccarello

A post shared by Derick Brassard (@brassardderick) on

Before the 2014-15 season, Zuccarello actually flew not to New York, but to Ottawa (Brassard's hometown), to road trip to training camp with Brassard. Zuc started using the hashtag, #werethetwobestfriendsthatanyonecanhave to cover their lives.


Roadtrip baby!! Ottawa to nyc! #werethetwobestfriendsthatanyonecouldhave

A post shared by matszuccarello (@matszuccarello) on

And Brass and Zuc were always up for fun events with each other, whether it was going to the zoo with Carl Hagelin:


Bronx zoo with the amigos #16 #62 #36

A post shared by matszuccarello (@matszuccarello) on

Or going to the U.S. Open with Ryan McDonagh:


I got my first taste of the US open tonight!! @matszuccarello @rmcdonagh27

A post shared by Derick Brassard (@brassardderick) on

Or hanging by the beach:


resting up and getting some vitamin d during the break

A post shared by Derick Brassard (@brassardderick) on


Or playing some sort of weird pool tennis game with Kevin Hayes:


Last weekend of the summer☀️ 30 days until the fun starts @brassardderick @kphayes12

A post shared by matszuccarello (@matszuccarello) on

Brassard and a few other Rangers even went to Norway to play in a charity game Zuccarello hosted:

Zucc also got Brass this amazing "All I want for Christmas is Zuuuuuc" sweater in 2015.


At least brass got what he wants for christmas merry chistmas and happy holidays everyone

A post shared by matszuccarello (@matszuccarello) on

They were the two best friends that anyone could have ...


4 more years of fun @matszuccarello ! Congrats

A post shared by Derick Brassard (@brassardderick) on

Until it all ended last July 18. Brassard and a 2018 seventh-round pick were traded to the Senators for Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 second-round pick. Just like that, the legend of Brass and Zucc was over.


#werethetwobestfriendsthatanyonecouldhave ❤️

A post shared by matszuccarello (@matszuccarello) on

Over the summer, Zuccarello told Norway's VG Sporten that he and Brassard "hung together almost every day" and he was "sad and sorry," but "not surprised" about the trade.

Zuccarello and Brassard did have one prime opportunity to hang out off the ice this season. The Senators visited the Rangers twice, the second encounter coming on Dec. 27, the first game after the NHL's three-day Christmas break. Brassard traveled to New York early to spend time with Zuccarello. Remember, all he wants for Christmas is Zuuuuuc.

In a previous life, Brassard and Zuccarello would have posted about their Christmas together on Instagram. But now, as rivals, the social media fun is over. That will be evident Thursday, when the Rangers and Senators open their second-round series in Ottawa. Brassard leads the Senators this postseason in points, with eight, and Zuccarello leads the Rangers in goals, with three. Zibanejad, the Rangers' prize in the Brassard trade, leads New York in points, with four.

Brassard and Zuccarello both have contracts that run through 2019, so a potential reunion is probably at least two years away. However, a public hug should happen a lot sooner. Regardless of how the upcoming series plays out, Brass and Zuc are sure to have an emotional moment in the handshake line after one team is eliminated. 

And it will be a reminder that hockey is a business, but friendship is forever.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.