Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal was injured while playing for Team Canada on Thursday at the World Championships, leaving the ice in severe pain.
Late in the first period against Sweden in a quarterfinal game, Staal, who also is Canada's captain, was playing the puck in the offensive zone on his backhand when he came across Swedish defenseman Alex Edler (of the Vancouver Canucks). The resulting hit was a knee-on-knee collision, and Staal was immediately on the ice clutching his knee, writhing in pain.
(To see video of the play, click here.)
Edler was given a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct. If Sweden plays another game, Edler might not be with them. A suspension from the IIHF could be coming his way. If this were the NHL, Edler would be looking at a hearing from Brendan Shanahan at the least. You just can't stick the knee out like that. It's such a dangerous play, and this illustrates exactly why.
This is the exact fear of every NHL GM when it comes to international competition, whether it be the World Championships or the Olympics. From just the looks of it, that was a very serious injury for Staal. While it's too early to tell, it wouldn't be a surprise at all if he missed some of next season for Carolina.
GM Jim Rutherford says Eric Staal has been taken for an MRI by NHL doctors. No word yet on seriousness of the injury.— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) May 16, 2013
It really makes you wonder what exactly the point is of competing in the Worlds every year from an NHL-player perspective. It's great to play for your country, and I love international competitions as much as anybody, but the risks are so much greater than the rewards when you have a big contract back in the NHL. There undoubtedly is insurance on his contract, but that won't help Staal get on the ice any sooner if he's seriously injured.
You never like to see players get injured, especially in an international competition. Staal hopefully will be fine, but it didn't look good.
Staal was Carolina's leading scorer during the past season with 18 goals and 35 assists in 48 games.