The New York Rangers spent much of this past season mixing and matching players in the lineup because of various injuries to all sorts of key players. More so than anything else, the Rangers made the playoffs because of the roster depth they haven't had in many years.
Over the past four seasons, one of the rock-solid, reliable young players has been defenseman Marc Staal. Since he's been in the NHL in 2007, he's played 80, 82, 82 and 77 games. On Day 3 of training camp, however, the team released some worrisome news on Staal.
Back on Feb. 22, Staal was hit hard into the boards by his brother, Eric Staal. While the knee injury he suffered was revealed right away, the news that he also suffered a concussion from the hit was not. Staal missed three games then, and sat out two more later in the month because he "didn't feel right."
Coach John Tortorella said that Staal experienced headaches -- residual effects of the concussion -- this summer as he began to ramp up his workouts. The 24-year-old was cleared for contact then when he returned in March, and is cleared for contact now, but the team wants to be careful with their defensive stalwart, so he will be sitting out the first three games in North America, and has been sitting out the team's scrimmages as well. However, Torts does want to get him in to at least one of the four European games.
"He's progressing nicely," Tortorella said. "We just want to be cautious and get him ready for the regular season. The past four days he's feeling better during workouts.
Tortorella described the headaches as "nothing really debilitating but it was still there."
When you see how long a player like Sidney Crosby has been out since he suffered a concussion, and how debilitating it has been for Marc Savard's career, it has to make the Rangers worry. There is no point in playing one of their best players now. Get him back to 110 percent healthy, then put him back into the lineup.
The Rangers want to "be smart with a very big part of our puzzle," Tortorella said.
Tortorella also updated the statuses of Brandon Prust and Michael Sauer. Prust, who underwent shoulder surgery 4.5 months ago, will sit out the preseason games in North America, as doctors want him to go without contact for two more weeks. Sauer is day-to-day with a sore knee, and Torts wants to get him into scrimmages early this week.