Staal skates, adjusting to blurry vision

April, 10, 2013
4/10/13
11:56
AM ET
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Injured defenseman Marc Staal skated for the third straight day Wednesday during the Rangers’ optional morning skate in Westchester.

Staal, who has not played since suffering an eye injury March 5, is still trying to improve his conditioning and work on adjusting to his vision limitations. The 26-year-old said his peripheral vision is not an issue but that the vision in his right eye remains blurry.

“I have full eyesight in both eyes, just one is blurry, still,” Staal said. “Things on the ice, like depth perception, are different. Just takes some getting used to.”

Staal, who participated in some light drills and shot on backup goaltender Martin Biron, still needs a full-tempo practice with contact to gauge whether he’s ready.

There is still no timetable for his return.

“It’s not really my body that I’m worried about,” said Staal, who said he felt “tired” and “sore” after Tuesday’s skate. “You’re gonna get sore when you’re getting back into shape, but the adjustment on the ice is the biggest thing.”

Staal, who now wears a protective shield to cover much of his face, said wearing a visor is the least of his concerns.

Shooting and passing are okay, too, but he’s still adjusting to movement coming toward him and plays in tight.

Staal said he reached out to other players who suffered similar eye injuries – Dany Heatley, Colin White and Manny Malhotra – to solicit advice on managing the injury.

White told him adjusting everyday life post-injury was actually harder than returning to the ice.

Staal hopes to achieve the latter soon, especially considering the unfortunate injury luck he has suffered over the past two years.

He also missed significant time last year, sitting out almost half of the season with a concussion.

“It’s been a different couple of years. The first three or four years of my career, I barely missed a game, but hit with two kind of back-to-back [injuries] like this, it’s tough,” Staal said. “I just look at as another bump in the road and I look forward to playing for a long time.”
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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