Rangers Marc Staal defies odds, will play in Classic
PHILADELPHIA -- Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will return to the New York Rangers lineup for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Monday.
Staal has missed the entire season due to lingering symptoms from a concussion he suffered in February of last season. Staal continued to play following the hit from Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, Marc's brother; but was shut down during training camp.
Marc Staal was cleared for contact a week ago and has been practicing without limits. He never ruled out playing in the Winter Classic but considered it a long shot all along only because of the time he needed to get into game shape.
Staal will follow in the footsteps of brother Jordan Staal, who missed the first 39 games of last season with a broken hand before returning to the Penguins lineup in the 2011 Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals.
Rangers coach John Tortorella said Sunday that Staal would not play in the 2012 Winter Classic, but it appears Staal made it clear Sunday night that he was ready to go. Staal practiced in full at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday, taking part in a few drills with his usual defense partner, Dan Girardi, after Ryan McDonagh left practice with flu-like symptoms.
Monday afternoon, in a press conference, Tortorella said that Marc Staal was given the necessary clearances and will play in New York's third pair. He did not reveal which defenseman would be out of the lineup.
Staal's return should provide a boost to the Rangers' depleted defense corps. Michael Sauer has missed a month with a concussion while Steve Eminger will be out two months with a separated shoulder.