PHILADELPHIA — When asked after the New York Rangers' practice on Sunday whether injured defenseman Marc Staal would play in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic, Coach John Tortorella said "no, nothing's changed with Mark. Same lineup tomorrow for this team."
Then Sunday dinner happened.
That's when Tortorella said he was given the green light from his trainer and a physician for Staal's return to the lineup for the first time since Game 5 against the Washington Capitals last April. But most importantly, he got the green light from Staal.
"I sat down and talked with him and asked him, 'Do you want to play?' I heard so many different things, and Marc was talking quite a bit," said Tortorella on Monday. "I said, 'Stalsy, I don't care about anyone else's opinion. Are you ready to play?' And he said he was."
Staal will rejoin the Rangers' lineup on the third defense pairing, which will limit his minutes. "We're not putting him in a top four position. We'll make judgments as it goes along here,"...