Marc Staal said in hindsight, playing 20 games or so after suffering a concussion probably wasn’t the smartest thing he’s ever done.
The New York Rangers blue-liner, who suffered the injury after being hit by older brother Eric in the 2010-11 campaign, was forced to sit out the first 36 games of the 2011-12 NHL season, not dressing until Jan. 2 as he navigated the long road to recovery.
“It was probably the dumbest thing I could have done at the time, but when you’re playing you don’t really think about that or that it would last that long,” Staal said recently, making an off-ice appearance at the Midget Kings alumni game at the Thunder Bay Tournament Centre.
Staal, who is nursing a foot injury suffered against New Jersey in the Eastern Conference final – he just got his walking boot off two weeks ago – said while concussions are different for everyone, it’s a struggle to get through every day life, let alone a professional hockey career.
Concussion was the buzz word of the NHL the past couple of years, starting with its most prominent player Sidney Crosby, who missed the better part of two seasons as he recovered.
It’s not something he wants to deal with again.
“Hopefully I don’t look back at it and have it happen again.”
He’d prefer to look back at the season that was, and although the Rangers weren’t able to live up to their No. 1 seed billing, falling to the Devils in six games, all-in-all it was a pretty good season on Broadway – once it eventually got going.
“The first half with the concussion and everything that was going on, it was tough to get back in the swing of things. But I think near the end of the year I started feeling more comfortable and felt like I was more like myself.
“I had a lot of fun playing in the playoffs and I’m looking to keep that high level and bring it to the next season.”
The Rangers finished with 109 points, second best in the 30-team NHL, and disposed of Ottawa and Washington in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
“We had a good run there. Obviously we’re disappointed with the way it ended. We didn’t have quite enough to beat New Jersey, but we are still a confident team and excited for next season to start.”
It’s all about experience, he said, now the lone Staal sibling not playing in the Carolina organization after younger brother Jordan was dealt to the Hurricanes on June 22.
With most of the Rangers returning – star forward Marian Gaborik will be sidelined until December after shoulder surgery – Staal said he’s looking for a repeat performance, with a better playoff outcome.
“I think it helps when you have a lot of the same guys coming into the season, that you’ve been playing with for so long,” said the 25-year-old, who had two goals and three assists in 46 games in the regular season, three goal and three assists in 20 playoff games.
“Getting that taste in your mouth of coming close and knowing what it’s going to take to get to that next round and eventually winning it (is important). I definitely learned a lot.”
Staal has 22 goals and 64 assists in 367 career games, all with New York.
Click here to report a typo or error
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Remember me next time.