New York Rangers coach revealed on Sunday that his young shutdown defenseman Marc Staal had suffered a concussion from the hit his brother planted on him back on Feb. 22. Tortorella also said that the team would take a cautious approach with Staal during training camp and the preseason, because the 24-year-old was dealing with headaches when he ramped up the intensity of his workouts this summer.
Speaking with the media for the first time since the news, Staal said even though he's "steadily improving," he still gets headaches -- some of which can last up to four or five hours -- after workouts.
As per Katie Strang of ESPNNewYork.com:
"I feel no symptoms if I don't do anything. If I sit on the couch all day I don't get any headache," Staal said. "If I push myself really hard, later in the day, more often than not, I'll get a headache."
As mentioned previously, Staal will not play in any of the Rangers' three preseason games in North America. Strang also said that Staal took Monday off after three days of "strenuous physical testing" to begin camp.
"Those three days were pretty tough and I came to the rink not feeling all that great, so we decided to take the foot off the gas a little bit," Staal said.
The Rangers' assistant captain said that he began workouts this summer, he couldn't get through a session without getting a headache, but he says he's been improving since that time.
"As soon as I get a stretch in where I'm not getting headaches after workouts or have a day like [Monday] after three hard days, I'll start playing games," Staal said. "Hopefully, that's sooner rather than later."
Sure, the fact that New York's best defenseman says he's "steadily improving" is good news. But concussions are nothing to play around with, and to hear he still hasn't overcome the symptoms is not a good sign. Tortorella wanted to get him into at least one of the four preseason games in Europe, but I have my doubts that will happen. The recovery period for athletes suffering concussions has been well-documented, and it's nothing to play around with.
The Rangers need Staal and if he has to sit out a few weeks until he's right, then so be it. No matter how many games he misses, this is a devastating blow for New York, who is looking to make serious headway in the Eastern Conference this season. Staal, quite frankly, has become one of the better defensive defensemen in the game. The blueline will be young (and even more inexperienced), but the Blueshirts first need to make sure that Staal is fully healthy and it's better to ensure that now, then to see him deal with it during the season -- and be shut down for even longer as a result.