The return of Sidney Crosby last night is a reason for the New York Rangers to be both hopeful and cautious in the recovery of Marc Staal from his concussion. Crosby was forced to miss 320 days of action, but it was the time that he needed to full heal from his injury and return at his previous level. New York has been taking the cautious approach with Staal this season, though it is still unclear if that happened late last season after the initial injury on February 22.
Staal has just begun light workouts after being shut down for a month, which leaves any return to action likely months away. The lesson from Crosby, at least for one game, is that the willingness to wait on one of your star players until they are fully right is worth it. The absence of Staal puts a deeper strain on the rest of the defense corps, but the Rangers are handling that as well as can be expected thus far, just as the Penguins had to find ways to score without their captain and league’s best player. The added responsibility for the others on defense will only make them better for when Staal is fully ready to return and play at the level that Marc Staal expects of himself.
Obviously with concussions there is no blueprint and there is no guarantee of what path is the best one because they are one hit away from suffering another one, but the cautious approach is the one the Rangers should remain on with Staal. Hope should be taken from just how well Crosby played in his return as he did not miss a beat from where he was before, even if it took longer than all involved would have hoped. There is no reason to give up hope that Marc Staal will return at some point this season, but the long-term health and ability of Staal should be first and foremost in the decision making process because rushing him back only makes him more susceptible to another injury.