The New York Rangers received some good news today, when it was announced that Marc Staal would be playing in today’s NHL Winter Classic. Staal has missed the entire 2011-12 NHL season due to concussion-related issues. In a bit of an odd twist, Staal’s brother, Jordan, missed the start of last year’s NHL season with a broken hand before returning for the 2011 Winter Classic.
On Sunday, New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella announced Staal would not play in the Classic. Tortorella informed the assembled press, which included Bleacher Report:
I told my trainer, I need a yes or a no. I don’t want tot talk about it. I don’t want to speculate. I don’t want percentage. I want a yes of a no. When I get a yes, he’ll play. Nothing has changed.
When Tortorella took to the podium at today’s impromptu press conference, he had a different tale to tell:
As I told you all before, I needed a yes or no. I got a yes from a trainer, I got a yes from a doctor and more importantly, I got a yes from the player. He’s going to play; I don’t care if we’re playing on a creek somewhere. He’s going to play.
While Tortorella was sure that his star defenseman was going to play, he was not to sure of how much he was going to play or what his exact role would be during today’s game:
That’s going to take time as far as where he’s going to sit in our line up. He’ll play in the third pair today and we’ll make judgments as we go through. We’re not putting him I the top four positions and we’ll make judgments on his game as it goes along.
With Staal’s return, the Rangers defense just got a lot deeper.