There are several questions surrounding the New York Rangers entering the 2013-14 regular season. Alain Vigneault will be entering his first year behind the bench, while Brad Richards looks to rebound from a disappointing 2013. Behind the scenes, management will -- and in all likelihood, are currently attempting to -- negotiate a long-term contract extension with superstar goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
For defenseman Marc Staal, the premise of next season is a bit more serious. Staal sustained an orbital bone fracture last March when he was struck in the face with a deflected shot. After missing two full months of action, Staal returned for a playoff game in May before being deactivated for the remainder of the season.
Given the unstable nature of head related injuries, Staal's return -- and future -- is not guaranteed. All one has to do is look south of New York to the situation surrounding Philadelphia Flyers (former) captain Chris Pronger to see that.
In a featured piece by Jim Cerny of Blueshirts United on Monday afternoon, it's indicated that Staal is back to normal and training without issue, via BlueshirtsUnited.com:
Staal, who has called this "one of the more normal summers recently" since he is feeling completely healthy and not dealing with concussion symptoms or a broken foot like the past two off-seasons, is training diligently every day to prepare for his first camp under the team's new head coach Alain Vigneault. He was back on the ice and skating two weeks ago, already.
The piece doesn't mention anything about the state of his injured eye. According to previous comment from Staal, his vision may never fully return to that eye. In fact, he doesn't expect it to. However, he didn't believe at the time that it would impact his ability to play at a high level.
After the lone postseason game he participated in this season, Staal indicated that his peripheral vision was an issue. That's a problem that Pronger still deals with to this day.
It's encouraging to hear that Staal feels completely healthy. It might mean that he is able to fully resume his career (and more importantly, live an unimpaired life). At the same time, the state of his eye is an important component to this comeback story. If his peripheral vision is still an issue, it could make things problematic.
Ultimately, it's merely another question for the Rangers heading into this season.