The news just keeps getting worse for the Rangers and Marc Staal. The alternate captain is already scheduled to miss the first two games overseas because of post-concussion symptoms, and there's no telling how much longer it could be.
What was once being described as nothing more than precautionary measures is now being described like this (from New York Post):
“Doctors have said that it could be a week, but it could also be a month,” Rangers GM Glen Sather said of Staal, who has been receiving treatment back home. “I wish we had something absolute, but we don’t."
So the Rangers had little option but to put Staal on the injured reserve list to start the season, meaning he will be out at least the first week. At the sounds of things, though, it's probably going to be longer.
As a result, the Rangers have begun preparing for life without Staal for a few weeks. Larry Brooks at the Post says the team has reopened talks with free-agent defenseman Paul Mara to fill the void. In the meantime, top prospect Tim Erixon is being recalled to make his debut in Sweden, his home nation.
Coach John Tortorella was not thrilled with the way his defense performed in the preseason, electing to waive Stu Bickell and Brendan Bell for purposes of relocating them to the AHL.
So imagine how concerned he is with the prospect of being down one of his team's top defensemen for a few weeks, possibly more. Sather certainly can see the worry.
“If Marc’s out for a substantial length of time, it’s going to have an impact on our club, no doubt about that. He’s our top defenseman, one of our top players, gets the most ice time and is always on against the other team’s top players.
“But it’s something we’ll just have to deal with.”
It's almost impossible to set a timetable on post-concussion returns. The Rangers, for their part, deny any setback has occurred. But it seems to be a matter of semantics. As Bob McKenzie of TSN points out, the Rangers said he'd only be out a short time and now it could be much longer.
Photo: Getty Images