Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Coming Back from Concussion

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Coming Back from Concussion

Article excerpt

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rangers defenseman Marc Staal can look back one year after sustaining a concussion and be candid about mistakes made along the way.

"The one thing I would have changed is, I shouldn't have played," Staal said Monday after practice.

Staal was injured Feb. 22, 2011, when he was checked by his brother Eric, a forward with the Carolina Hurricanes.

He missed the next four games and another two in March.

In hindsight, Staal acknowledged, he should have sat out longer.

"It's nobody's fault," Staal said.

"Since the off-season, I'm confident we handled everything the right way. It was a learning process for me and everyone else. This is still new territory."

Staal has played more than 20 games this season, beginning with the Winter Classic on Jan. 2.

Typically a shutdown defenseman in previous seasons, Staal has played more than 20 minutes in only five games.

But there have been positive signs; four of those games have been since Feb. 1.

After going scoreless in his first 17 games, Staal has a goal and an assist in his last four.

Coach John Tortorella said Staal's "stick has been much better," meaning the defenseman has been more active deflecting shots and disrupting opponents' lanes in the Rangers' zone.

Staal credits Jim Ramsay, the Rangers' trainer, for preparing him to play without a proper training camp.

Brad Richards, who dealt with a concussion while a member of the Dallas Stars at this time last season, provided emotional support.

"You have to have endured what I and other players have gone through with concussions to really be able to relate and help," Richards said.

"I heard he was struggling. I didn't even know him that well, but we started to talk. There are certain humps you have to get over before you start feeling better and can think about skating again.

"With concussions, there is so much anxiety that few people understand. All the talk bothers you more than you'd think. It's not an exact science, which is why you're going to see players -- whether they're teammates or opponents -- speaking more openly with each other about concussions than ever before."

The Penguins are without Sidney Crosby, sidelined after a recurrence of concussion symptoms. …

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