Saturday, October 1, 2011

Staal Doubts Own Ability To Play In Rangers Opener

The New York Rangers are in Europe preparing to open the season on Friday, defenseman Marc Staal is skating with the Connecticut Whale in hopes of joining the team for the regular season.  However, according to Andrew Gross in today’s Bergen Record, Staal does not seem too confident that will happen while the team is in Europe. 
"It’s skate and see how I feel and then kind of go from there," Staal told The Record. "If I’m not feeling ready to play a game, it’s doubtful that I’ll make it over there. I’ll know more [today] as it goes on."
That is certainly not good news for the Rangers faithful as losing Staal for any game action is a huge loss to the team.  That said, the patient approach is the right one for Staal to take and he knows how ready or not ready he is at this point to play against NHL competition.  That is part of the problem in Staal’s judgement that his lack of being cleared for contract due to his headaches he cannot gauge his level of game fitness.
"I haven’t physically touched anybody on the ice yet so, from that standpoint, I’m not ready," Staal said. "Once I’m cleared to start taking hits and battling guys down low, I can better gauge when I could be ready."
While the talk from the organization has been very positive and upbeat about when Staal will be able to play, hearing Staal himself doubt where he is right now is a more honest assessment.  Glen Sather is talking up how soon Staal could be in Europe while the player himself has no plans to even make it there at all.
"Nothing’s booked right now," Staal said. "Honestly, there’s not really a plan. It’s going by how I feel. If I improve drastically tomorrow and feel good, maybe I’ll head over there."