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Rangers' Staal to sit out European opener

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 9:49 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Rangers' Staal to sit out European opener
Rangers defenseman Marc Staal still is suffering from concussion-related headaches, leading the club to leave him home from their season-opening trip to Europe.
ZUG, Switzerland -- Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will not be joining his teammates in Stockholm for the start of the regular season. Staal has been dealing with headaches due to a concussion he suffered in February, a result of a hit he received from brother Eric Staal of the Hurricanes.

The Rangers were hoping Staal would join them in Europe for their 2011 NHL Compuware Premiere games, but coach John Tortorella said the decision was made Tuesday to hold him back so he can continue to work with doctors at home.

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Staal flew to Buffalo last week to receive a cortisone shot in his neck to relieve some pressure, and he practiced Friday and Saturday with the Rangers' American Hockey League affiliate in Connecticut.

"Marc Staal continues to work with his people out there," Tortorella said. "He will not be here. We felt it was best to leave him alone."

Tortorella also said he doesn't believe Staal will go on injured reserve to start the season, but that could change following a conversation with Rangers President and GM Glen Sather.

"We have to be really careful with that," Tortorella said. "In these types of situations when you're talking about symptoms, it may clear up really quickly. I haven't talked to Glen. We haven't gotten into that conversation. We finally made the decision (Tuesday) that he is going to stay back there and we'll go on without him until we get back home."

Tortorella added that forward Wojtek Wolski (sore groin) and defenseman Michael Sauer (sprained right shoulder) likely will practice with the Rangers on Wednesday in Stockholm, and his hope is both can play in Friday's opener against the Los Angeles Kings (1 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN). If the Rangers don't put Staal on injured reserve, the team will have to cut a player by Wednesday to get down to the mandatory 24-man roster for the opener. They are allowed to carry a third goalie as precaution.

The coach confirmed Monday that Sean Avery and Erik Christensen are the candidates for the final roster spot.

Avery carries a $1.9 million cap hit for the Rangers (his $3.8 million hit is split with Dallas), while New York is on the hook for $925,000 with Christensen.

"We'll have to make a decision," Tortorella said without confirming when the decision will be made.

Avery didn't play in the last two preseason games, but Tortorella said it was only because he knows what Avery is capable of and he wanted to see more of Christensen.

Christensen was used at center and on the wing in Monday's 8-4 loss to Swiss club EV Zug.

"You look at (Christensen) and a big reason why we get in (the playoffs last season) is that shootout," Tortorella said. "I know what Sean is and the type of player, what he does. I wanted to see Erik in different situations. We'll make our decision there as we approach our opener."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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