A report out of the New York Post this past week stated that defenseman Marc Staal, despite optimistic feeling from the Rangers, was placed on a one-month shutdown by his doctor in early October. Staal was told not to engage in any physical activity within that time period and to simply rest in his New York apartment, meaning no time spent at the practice rink. Obviously this was news GM Glen Sather was not pleased to hear, but it was the best approach to take for the sake of Marc's health.
As we've seen with many of the concussed players around the league (yes, that's you Sidney Crosby), at some point a player's health becomes more valuable than their roster spot. In Staal’s case, each time he went to take his summer workouts up a notch, the post-concussion headaches would return and he would be back at square one just like that. Therefore, the doctor's logic here is straightforward. A time period of rest, without any setbacks due to physical strain, may result in a significant and speedy recovery, as opposed to forcing the issue by continuously trying to work out.
Of course, we won't know if that was the actual outcome until Marc re-visits his doctor in the next week, but it's a good bet he has made some progress sine being shutdown last month.
And as a side note, the shutdown is the reason why we haven't received any news or updates on Staal's status over the past few weeks. John Tortorella was not hiding anything when he repeatedly stated he had nothing to offer in regard to Staal's health. The Rangers could've easily announced that he was shutdown for a month, but they did not and I cannot blame them for that. If that news would've came out when it originally was decided upon, the fan base would've went into a craze and assumed his career was over. The Rangers saved themselves of that chaos by keeping mum.
Anyway, there's always a chance Staal could receive good news from his doctor this week that will hopefully set some sort of timetable for his return. Realize, though, that once Marc is again cleared to play, he is not going to jump right into game action. Missing a month's worth of workouts has certainly set him back and it will take much time in the gym and in the practice rink in order for Marc to get back into game-shape. But even that, at this point, would give some encouragement.
The Rangers will then have to monitor how Staal reacts to workouts and skating, and from there it's all about contact. Staal is a very physical player, as we know, and as a defenseman he gets knocked around quite a bit. Marc, and the team, must be completely sure that he can fully withstand any and all physical contact without any relapse before he can return to the lineup. That's all physical contact not to the head, though, because if he gets hit in the dome, he's going to be in trouble.
So I don’t mean to get ahead of myself here, but I think the chances that Marc receives some sort of encouraging news this week are high. He’s rested, just as he was told, for an entire month, and it would be hard for me to believe that being dormant for that amount of time hasn’t benefited his health in one way or another.
And, on the bright side of things, the defense has started to play pretty damn well in his absence, led by Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh.