New York Rangers defenceman Marc Staal is reportedly closer to returning to game-action after dealing with post-concussion symptoms for the last 10 months.
Staal, who suffered a concussion last February, was cleared for contact Monday and took part in physical drills with teammates Monday, including taking some hits.
Medical staff and specialist Dr. Robert Cantu gave the 24-year-old, and a four-year veteran of the league, the OK after the player practiced for a week and appeared OK following the Rangers two-day break.
“Today I felt fully confident going on the ice and taking some hits. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that that wasn’t the right thing to do with the way I was feeling,” Staal told ESPNNewYork.com. “I took a few bumps, my head bounced off the glass a couple times, things like that, not necessarily very hard ... you wait to see how you feel after that. I wasn’t planning on laying on the ice, out cold, but it was good just to start pushing guys and getting that type of conditioning into your body. “
Staal said he has some conditioning to do before returning to the grind of 20 to 25 minutes of ice time.
That makes playing in next week’s Winter Classic vs. the Flyers highly unlikely for Staal, who was knocked out of action by his older brother Eric of the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I still need some more work. I don’t feel as if I’m ready to play 25 minutes a night like I was last year,” Staal told the website. “I feel a lot stronger on the ice. It’s starting to come but nowhere it needs to be yet.”