Despite the New York Rangers being knocked out of the playoffs, the update on defenseman Marc Staal is still relevant to those interested in the game of hockey.
Staal suffered a horrific eye injury when he took a puck to his right eye on March 5, causing a small tear that forced him to miss the remainder of the regular season and all of the postseason (38 games combined).
Staal told Katie Strang of ESPNNewYork.com that he doesn’t think the eye will ever recover 100%, but he does expect to resume his career as a NHL defenseman.
“It’s probably not going to be 100 percent,” Staal said of his injury, “but that’s not to say it’s not going to get a lot better. It’s still improving. My belief is that once everything settles down and I get comfortable with it, I’ll never have to be asked about it again. I don’t think it’ll be an issue.”
Remarkably, Staal did suit up for game three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Washington Capitals, spurring the debate if he rushed back to action too soon. Staal admitted that he was still suffering from lingering problems that forced him to miss the remainder of the playoffs.
According to Strang, Staal experienced some dizziness and disorientation during the game thanks to the pressure in the eye spiking then dropping. Furthermore, Strang reports that Staal’s eye would cramp up on him, causing severe headaches.
While the road to recovery is ongoing for Staal, the outlook is positive that he will return to the Rangers as early as next season. His absence was noticeably detrimental to the Rangers as coach John Tortorella explained to Strang:
“When Marc Staal was injured — and he’s had a tough couple of years here — he was playing his best hockey I’ve seen him play since I’ve been here,” coach John Tortorella said. “That hurt us.”
Interestingly enough, Staal recently voted in favor of making visors a mandatory piece of equipment for all players, a stance that has changed since the injury. He was not wearing a visor at the time of the injury and now dawns a longer than normal visor in an attempt to further protect his eye according to Strang.
Staal may not ever have 100% of his eye sight back, but if he can return to the game that he loves and learn to play with less than full vision, it would make a remarkable story; one that the Staal family hopes will be written as soon as next season.