Marc Staal spoke to the media yesterday after skating on his own prior to New York Rangers practice. He has been out for 18 games since getting struck just above the eye with a puck in the Rangers game against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 5. Staal said he hopes to be back soon:
“The fractures are good, and the vision isn’t 100 percent yet, but every week, it’s gotten better,” Staal said. “Hopefully it keeps on healing and gets better.
“I want to be back as soon as I can, and now I want to get back in the best shape as I possible,” he continued. “We’ll still monitor the eye and take it one step at time. There’s no timeline or a date I’m looking at to get back. I’m just going to work as hard as I can and keep talking to the doctors and take it from there.”
When he was struck the league was collectively shook up by the reality of what could happen to a player on the ice, none so much as Staal’s family. It seems that everyone reached out to help him:
“It’s been tough … that first week was pretty scary,” Staal said. “I don’t think my wife slept the first four nights, wiping blood off my eye and off my face. She’s been huge at home, as have been my parents and brothers. It’s amazing how small the hockey world is and how many reach out to wish you as well. The amount of information you can get is great.”
The main thing that arose from Staal’s injury is a major debate surrounding making visors mandatory. Staal is obviously all for grandfathering in that rule:
“When I was hit and on the ice, one of the things that went through my mind was, ‘I should have been wearing a visor,'” he said. “It’s 20/20 hindsight now, but I’ll wear one to protect my eyes.
My opinion on mandatory visors is that it doesn’t really matter. Sidney Crosby wears a visor and he was hit in the jaw, does that mean that the league will force players to wear cages? There is always the risk of getting hit with a puck on the ice. A visor is good for protection but it is a player’s choice whether they want to take the risk. If you are playing in the NHL you are old enough to make your own decisions including whether or not to wear a visor.