March 5, 2013 will be a day that New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will always remember, as it was the day that could have ended his career when he was struck in his right eye by a deflected shot.
I thought that was going to be the last time Rangers fans would see Staal for the rest of the 2013 season, but I was wrong.
Staal amazingly came back in Game 3 of the opening round of the playoffs, but sadly left the game rather early on after he took a check that knocked him down on the ice and caused him hit his head on the boards.
Staal, who also missed the half of the previous season due a concussion, did not return in any games throughout the rest of the 2013 postseason — a wise choice, if I do say so myself.
Fast forward to the present. With Staal now supposedly healthy and even back to normal according to reports, you would think everything is fine and all is well. Unfortunately, I do not think this is the case.
During the spring/summer, after numerous trips to the doctors, we were told that Staal’s right eye would never fully heal and that he will just have to play through it if he wants to continue his career. So how is it possible for Staal to be back to normal? I believe that is impossible.
I mean, Staal is a great player and all, but he is not superhuman. This is why I think if the Rangers want to make a serious playoff push this season, then they are going to have to find a way to do it that does not rely on Staal, because they can’t anymore.
With his proneness to serious injury, it would just be ignorant to assume that Staal will be the same shutdown defenseman and do that for all 82 games plus the playoffs (potentially). Anything Staal does from now on has to be looked at as bonus points for the Rangers.
Yes, I know the Rangers defense struggled a lot at times after Staal’s eye injury last year, but that just cannot happen this season. Every defenseman has to step up whether Staal is in the lineup or not, and the Rangers can’t make his absence an excuse if Staal indeed misses time again in the 2013-14 season.
It pains me the say this, but even though Staal’s career might not have ended on March 5, 2013, the lingering effects of what happened on that day may end his life in hockey sooner than all of us had expected.