When Hockey Canada announced its 48-man roster for next months Olympic orientation camp, there were the usual surprises of who and who wasn't named to the team. There was, however, one under-the-radar name on the list that was encouraging to see: New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal.
The 26-year old Staal suffered a horrific injury after taking a puck to the eye during a game in early March. He missed two months before returning for Game 3 of the Rangers' opening round playoff series against the Washington Capitals. Staal played 17:17 of that game, the last of his season. He ruled himself out for Games 4 and 5 before sitting out the rest of the series after reportedly dealing with blurred vision and a hindered depth perception.
With a summer to recover and get healthy, Staal sounds as if he'll be ready to go when training camp opens up in a little over a month. Speaking with Jim Cerny of the New York Rangers' website, the defenseman sounds optimistic of a return.
Staal, who has called this “one of the more normal summers recently” since he is feeling completely healthy and not dealing with concussion symptoms or a broken foot like the past two off-seasons, is training diligently every day to prepare for his first camp under the team’s new head coach Alain Vigneault. He was back on the ice and skating two weeks ago, already.
In May, Staal told reporters he didn't expect his eye to ever return to 100-percent, but that it wouldn't affect a possible return. The lasting effect of his injury was that it sped up the process of grandfathering in visors, which was approved by the NHL and NHLPA approved in June.
Said Staal in May about whether or not visors should be mandatory: "Having gone through what I did. I don't want anyone else to do that."
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