The Rangers' top defenseman, Marc Staal, who has been suffering from concussion-related headaches, will not join the club in Stockholm for their first two regular season games Friday and Saturday.
After the Rangers ended their pre-season schedule with an 8-4 loss to EV Zug in Switzerland, Coach John Tortorella said Staal, 24, would stay in New York to work with doctors. He said Staal would not be placed on injured reserve right now.
Staal, who has received acupuncture treatment during training camp and undergone neurological tests, skated Friday and Saturday with the AHL Connecticut Whale after seeing specialists for several days, including a Buffalo doctor who gave him a cortisone shot in the neck.
The 6-foot-4 defenseman, who logged the fourth-most ice time per game in the league, was concussed on Feb. 22 by a high hit from his brother, Eric, who plays for Carolina. He sat out three games, returned, then sat out two more in March and played through the first round of the playoffs. The headaches began during workouts this summer, Staal said during training camp, and he did not participate in any scrimmages, or games, as a precaution.
"Marc Staal continues to work with his people (in New York) and he's not coming on the trip, he will not be (in Stockholm). He continues to work with the doctors out there, so we thought it was best to leave him alone right now. So he won't open the season with us," Tortorella said.
Because Staal, who was 7-22-29 in 77 games, has been lmited in his conditioning and is not in game shape, the announcement is not all that shocking. The Rangers third game of the season is Oct. 15 against the Islanders, which would give him another 11 days to continue his recovery.
The Rangers have seven defensemen in Europe: Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, Brendan Bell, Stu Bickel and Michael Sauer, receovering from a week-old shoulder sprain) and Tortorella has said that the front office was looking at possible additions from either the waiver wire or elsewhere.