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Staal, Wolski bring Toys for Tots awareness to 'Today'

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Marc Staal and Wojtek Wolski spent part of their Wednesday morning making an appearance on NBC's "Today" to talk about the upcoming 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and help raise awareness about the Toys for Tots drive with Christmas right around the corner.

The Rangers, adorned in the Winter Classic jerseys they'll be wearing when they face the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park, spent time signing autographs before and after their segment. Appearing on national television for a charitable cause just hours before a scheduled practice is one of the unique aspects of playing hockey in New York.

"I think it's very important. In the position we're in, we're very blessed. We've been very fortunate over the years, so it's great to be able to give back. It's very special." -- Wojtek Wolski

"It was pretty cool. I've never been down here during the show," Staal said. "To be on it was pretty neat. Toys for Tots are great. Just coming here with fans everywhere. I ran into a Rangers fan with a tattoo on his leg doing security for the 'Today' show, so they're always around and very loyal, so it's fun to be a Ranger in this city."

Toys for Tots is a program that brings toys to less fortunate children around the holidays. It's largely based on receiving either monetary donations or toys from people who want to lift the spirits of children who otherwise wouldn't receive a present at this time of year.

"I think it's very important," Wolski said. "In the position we're in, we're very blessed. We've been very fortunate over the years, so it's great to be able to give back. It's very special."

The Winter Classic is less than two weeks away, and Staal and Wolski are still recovering from serious injuries. Staal has missed the entire season due to a concussion, but has been practicing with the team for the past couple weeks despite not yet being cleared for contact. Wolski had sports hernia surgery, but he too is close to returning.

Any chance we'll see them in a game Jan. 2?

"I'm not holding it right out of the question, but that would be tight," Staal said. "We'll see as the days go on here."

"I hope so," Wolski said. "I hope to be back as soon as possible. I'm practicing and getting ready and trying to speed up the process as much as possible."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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