It was revealed at the start of New York Rangers' training camp that stalwart defenseman Marc Staal suffered a concussion back in February and that he was getting headaches as he worked out this offseason. He "practiced well" Sunday, according to coach John Tortorella, but he will not be flying to Europe when the rest of the team leaves after its game against Philadelphia.
Tortorella left the option open that Staal could return in time for the first regular season game of the year in Stockholm, Sweden on Oct. 7, but the longer he's held out of real games, the more doubts I have about his condition and when he will actually return. Don't get me wrong, this is all on Staal to give the OK that he can resume playing again, but concussions are not to be taken lightly and he needs to be cleared in every aspect before he plays again.
New York Daily News' Jesse Spector reports that Staal met with specialists on Thursday and Friday, was scheduled for acupuncture treatment after Sunday's practice and that he has been medically cleared for contact. But the Rangers are being cautious -- and rightfully so. Even if he has to miss the first few games (or weeks), it's crucial that he's healthy now, then see him come back and reinjure himself.
"We're going to try to get him on the trip," Tortorella said. "Once he feels better, and we feel he can get into all the stuff we want him to do to get ready for the regular season, he'll come out."
Tortorella said he'd have another update in "four or five days."
Continuing on the injury front, Brandon Prust, who has not played in the preseason after offseason shoulder surgery, will make the trip to Europe. He is expected to play in the preseason games.
The Rangers will play four preseason games in five days in Europe. They are expected to cut two forwards after tomorrow's game against Philadelphia, but with Staal's uncertainty, three spots on defense are up for grabs.