New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal sustained one of the scariest injuries of last season when he was struck in the eye with a deflected shot in March, which resulted in a fractured orbital bone. The incident resonated so deeply within the NHL's ranks that the Players' Association approved a motion to grandfather in mandatory eye protection for all incoming players beginning this season.
While the future of visors in the game is cemented, the same can't be said of Staal's career. Given the unpredictable nature of head-related injuries, Staal's ability to return to world-class form is still something to observe.
With that being said, the 26-year-old defender believes that he has returned to normal and will be ready to play in the 2013-14 regular season, via ESPN.com:
"I have no limitations at all. It's been a great summer of training. Physically from the time I was cleared to start working out, there wasn't anything I couldn't do as far as physically getting ready. So that part of it has been really good this summer, just getting into shape, getting stronger and getting ready for the season."
Staal prematurely returned during the 2013 playoffs, playing in a single game before being shutdown for the remainder of the year. At the time, he stated that issues with his peripheral vision hindered his ability to play. Apparently, those issues have subsided.
"It was more of just adapting to the depth perception and things like that when I was coming back. It just wasn't clicking when I was trying to come back in the playoffs there. But with the time off and the training now, everything's back to normal and I'm feeling really good."
He had previously stated that he didn't expect the eye to fully heal, but didn't anticipate that altering his future ability to play.