Marc Staal out indefinitely after being struck by shot near eye

Marc Staal of the Rangers is assisted by

Marc Staal of the Rangers is assisted by a trainer after being hit by a puck in the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers in an NHL game at Madison Square Garden. (March 5, 2013) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will be sidelined indefinitely after a frightening incident when he was struck near his right eye by a deflected shot during the third period against the Flyers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, but two doctors said he is "expected to make a full recovery."

In a statement released Wednesday, the team said Staal "was examined today in New York by ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Fromer and Dr. Mendel Markowitz, a maxillofacial surgeon. The injury has improved significantly and both doctors are optimistic that Marc will make a full recovery."

Staal, who was not wearing a visor, immediately went face down on the ice when struck by Kimmo Timonen's point shot that changed direction off Jakub Voracek's stick, and left the ice bleeding, accompanied by trainer Jim Ramsay.

Staal leads Rangers defensemen in points with 11, including two goals, in 21 games.

It has been an unfortunate stretch for the Thunder Bay, Ontario, native, whose brothers Eric and Jordan play for the Carolina Hurricanes. Marc missed the first 36 games of last season with a concussion and made his debut at the Winter Classic against the Flyers on Jan. 2, 2012.

Less than 24 hours after Staal was hit by the puck, defenseman Roman Hamrlik, 38, was claimed off waivers from the Washington Capitals. The 6-2, 230-pound native of Czechoslovakia, who has played 1,383 games for the Lightning, Oilers, Islanders, Flames and Montreal, had been a healthy scratch for all but four of the Capitals' 20 games this season. A lefthanded shot, Hamrlik was 2-11-13 in 68 games last season.

Staal's injury immediately re-ignited the debate about visors. The NHL wants to make visors mandatory, but the NHLPA prefers that it remain a player's choice. About 70 percent of players wear the facial protection, up from 56 percent in 2009. Players say they can see better without the half-shield.

The AHL's Board of Governors approved mandatory visors in 2006 and the NCAA requires full cages. Derek Stepan, who attended the University of Wisconsin, switched to the visor when he made the Rangers.

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