NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers celebrates with teammates on the bench after Vaclav Prospal #20 scored a goal in the third period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 17, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Yesterday we reported that Marc Staal was being held out of scrimmaging due to post-concussion syndrome. Shortly after it was announced, John Tortorella spoke to the media and said that Staal was feeling better, but the New York Rangers were still being extremely cautious with their superstar defenseman.
This news is starting to send the Rangers' fanbase into a panic; and I've already seen some people start to question the decision not to target a veteran defenseman during free agency.
First of all, let's back off the ledge a little bit. Obviously post-concussion syndrome is bad, especially with the Marc Savard and Sidney Crosby situations unfolding this offseason; but it's not the end of the world. The way you avoid further head injuries (and potentially damaging careers) is by taking a significantly cautious approach. Which happens to be exactly what the Rangers are doing right now.
Join me after the jump for more.
Tortorella said he expects Staal to be ready for the regular-season opener against the Kings on Oct. 7 in Stockholm, Sweden but Staal will not play in at least the first three preseason games, all in North America. Tortorella hopes to get Staal into one of the four European preseason 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. We want him to feel better consistently," Tortorella added. "He could have contact. We're holding him out. In the summertime, when he was ramping up his workouts, he started feeling it."
Tortorella described the headaches as "nothing really debilitating but it was still there."
The Rangers can't really afford to play games with this situation, it truly has to be handled the right way. Understand that the only reason why it's even remotely possible that Mike Sauer, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto and Tim Erixon can make up the bottom four members of the Rangers' defensive corps is because of Staal. Staal and Girardi can play 20+ minutes a night if need be, and Staal is an all-situation defenseman.
So why would the Rangers take a chance during games that don't matter? I understand that it might seem suspicious and worrisome that the Rangers are keeping him from the scrimmages and first few games of the preseason, but it's a necessary precaution.
Both Staal and Sauer are improving, according to Tortorella. That's a good thing. It should also be noted that Staal passed a baseline neurology test before he returned after the initial injury last year. So as of right now, and there is no reason to assume otherwise, the Rangers are taking a very careful approach to the situation, and there is no real reason for concern.
We'll keep an eye on this story as things progress, but for now all signs are pointing to this being a non-story.