By Brian Monzo
» More Columns
Everyone, including myself, was of the belief that the biggest storyline entering Rangers training camp last week would be the progression of new top line center Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.
That, and New York’s search for a winger to complete the still-unsettled Rangers first line.
But when a story developed over the weekend that Marc Staal was still suffering from lingering effects from a concussion in February (caused by a hit from his brother Eric — seen here), all that changed.
The history of the concussion is an odd one. You used to hear concussion, and you’d think headaches, a few games missed and all is well.
Now, that’s not the case.
Whether it be hockey, baseball or football, a concussion (minor or major) is a serious situation. There were those cases of Eric Lindros, Pat LaFontaine, Mike Richter and Paul Kariya who have had numerous concussions and had to end their career for that reason.
Whether now it be advanced studies or stronger players, one concussion is a scary thing. Look at Sidney Crosby. He took a shot at last season’s Winter Classic, played a few games, wasn’t feeling great and we haven’t seen him since. His return for the start of the season is in doubt.
Taking this back to the Rangers — I am no doctor, but I hear concussion and I am thinking Staal could easily miss half the season. Initial reports say he progressing, but tomorrow he could wake up and take a step back. Staal will not take place in any of the four Rangers preseason games in North America before they head out to Europe for the final preseason games and the beginning of the regular season.
The belief is the Rangers hope he could be ready to start the regular season, but there is no way to be certain. Sadly, there is no solution to this. Concussions have gone from day-to-day to hour-to-hour and now minute-to-minute. Staal has not been taking part of scrimmages and is skating day-to-day.
There is reason to worry.
Staal has easily been the Rangers’ top defenseman the past few seasons. He averaged close to 25 minutes per game last season, along with defensive partner Dan Girardi. His offensive numbers have improved every season, jumping in points from 10 to 15 to 27 to 29 last season.
If he has to miss an extended period of time, the Rangers will be relying on the likes to Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer, Steve Eminger, Michael Del Zotto and rookie Tim Erixon to man the blueline. While the potential is explosive, four of those six have not played more then one season, and Erixon has never played in the NHL.
Staal has become one of the backbones and leaders of the team, and was recently rewarded for his efforts by being given the honor of being an alternate captain.
It is tough to predict what is going to happen, but just the potential of losing Staal is something nobody wants to imagine.
Follow me on Twitter @BMonzoWFAN
How much time do you think Staal will miss? Sound off below…