Skip to Main Content

Marc Staal will not make return in Classic

by Shawn P. Roarke
PHILADELPHIA -- Any hopes of Marc Staal following in his brother's footsteps and making a return at a Winter Classic were dashed by Rangers coach John Tortorella on Sunday.

"Nothing's changed with Marc," Tortorella said following the team's practice at Citizens Bank Park in preparation for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Last season, Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins made his season debut in the 2011 Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals after missing the first 39 games with a broken hand.

This season, Marc Staal has been out all season due to a concussion. He has skated with the team for the past few weeks -- including Sunday -- and was cleared for contact this past Monday. However, Staal will not be patrolling the blue line against the Flyers in front of more than 45,000 fans.

Tortorella said nothing has changed regarding Staal and he'll be using the same line that took the ice against the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

"It's the same thing that's been going on for a couple of weeks," Tortorella said. "I have no more information on Marc. I told my trainer, I need a yes or no. I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to speculate.  I don't want percentages. I want a yes or no. When I get a yes, then he'll play. But nothing's changed. Just because we skated outdoors doesn't change anything that's gone on the past couple weeks with Marc."

For a brief moment Sunday, it looked like old times for Staal during practice.

Ryan McDonagh, who has taken over Staal's spot alongside Dan Girardi on the Rangers' No. 1 defense pairing, left practice due to flu-like symptoms. That led to Staal taking part in drills with Girardi and speculation that he could make his season debut, but Tortorella said McDonagh will be ready to face the Flyers on Monday.

The 22-year-old McDonagh has played just 76 NHL games, but he's been a steady presence for the Rangers this season in place of Staal. He has four goals and 12 assists in 36 games while logging 25:11 per game, second-most on the Rangers to Girardi and No. 12 in the NHL.

"He has stepped in with our injuries and he's been put in situations that we were not expecting to put him," Tortorella said. "I know in talking to him early on in camp, he wanted to bring (offense) into his game, develop into a complete player, and he's done that."

The rapid development of McDonagh has allowed the Rangers to be patient with Staal, who will have to wait at least one more game before he makes his return this season.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

View More