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Staal Optimistic He'll Be Ready For Regular Season

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins center Jordan Staal will miss the beginning of the team’s 2010 training camp due to a foot infection, but the soon-to-be 22-year-old center expects to be recovered in time for the start of the regular season in October.

Penguins center Jordan Staal hopes to make a full recovery from his foot injury in time for the beginning of the 2010-11 regular season. Credit - Getty Images
“My goal is to be ready for the start of the season,” Staal said. “I have a lot of work to do. I lost a lot of strength over the summer and I have to get that back quickly. I feel like I have the right people around me and we’ll be able to do it.

“In my short career this is my first injury. That’s not easy for any type of player to sit around and wait. It’s a new challenge for myself. Hopefully I can get over this and get my season started as soon as possible.”

Staal originally suffered a lacerated tendon in his foot in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Montreal on April 30 when the Canadiens P.K. Subban accidently stepped on his skate during a battle for a loose puck.

Following a minor surgical procedure – which sidelined Staal for Games 2 and 3, ending a streak of 357 consecutive games played (including postseason) – Staal was back in action just six days after suffering the injury, appearing in the final three games of the semifinal series. His gutsy performance included scoring the final Penguins goal at Mellon Arena during the second period of Game 7.

In mid-June, Staal had another surgical procedure and his recovery from that was delayed when the area around his foot developed an infection.

“The fact that Jordan came back and played with this injury during the playoffs is a testament to his toughness and competitiveness,” general manager Ray Shero said. “He has experienced some setbacks due to infection, but is now on the road to recovery. We believe he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season in October.”

“Jordan’s setback with his foot held him back from a training standpoint and it prevented him from getting his foot into a skate and doing some of the activities in the summer time that you would like,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “The good thing is that there is time to do the appropriate thing – which is to take time and get the foot healed up properly before we move towards getting him into a skate.”

While no athlete ever wants to deal with setbacks in his recovery, even in the summer, Bylsma said the team was lucky that Staal’s infection occurred early in the offseason. Bylsma and Staal believe the five weeks which remain before the Penguins open the regular season on October 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first-ever regular-season contest at CONSOL Energy Center should provide Staal with ample time to re-join the lineup.

“We have time for him to continue with his recovery and still be ready for the start of the season,” Bylsma said. “It was not the summer that Jordan anticipated, but it is a time where we do have the time to get him completely healthy and also get him on track to improve his skating and strength.”

“There are a few things that I can’t quite do yet,” Staal said. “I just started working out now. Every day I am doing more and more. Hopefully that will change into a full workout and skating soon enough.”

As Staal works towards getting back on the ice, he is happy that doctors were able to take care of the infection and finally allow the foot to begin healing properly.

“It feels really good right now,” Staal said. “It’s been a difficult summer with a lot of ups and downs. It feels good to finally get moving again and getting on the right track. I am obviously excited about that.”

Staal, who ranked fifth on the team last season with 49 points (21G-28A) and is coming off of a Selke Trophy nomination, enters 2010-11 having appeared in 302 consecutive regular-season contests, the second-highest total in club history behind Ron Schock (313).

While Staal hopes to increase that number to 303 on October 7, he said his No. 1 priority is getting back to 100 percent when he returns.

“It is neat to have something like that going, but I am not going to risk anything that will change things dramatically for my career,” Staal said. “Things like that you have to take one step at a time. If it happens it does, and if it doesn’t it doesn’t. What matters is that I get back to 100 percent.”

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