Yesterday the Penguins reported that Jordan Staal left practice early with an upper body injury. The Penguins reported later yesterday afternoon that Staal is having surgery this morning to repair a fracture in his right hand and will be out for as long as 6 weeks.
While this is an obvious set back for the Penguins, GM Ray Shero was able to find a silver lining of sorts. While Shero didn’t speak with Staal after the injury occurred yesterday, he did text briefly with the 22 year old center.
“He had worked really hard to get to this point, which isn’t surprising because that is the way that he is, he will do the same thing with this injury. There has to be a silver lining with everything. For me, it’s that he will get a chance to get a significant portion of our season in. That is the good news.” – Penguins GM Ray SheroRemember, NHL season is 82 games long, and the Penguins have only played 12 of those games. While it’s frustrating to lose a key player for an extended length of time, the loss is usually easier to absorb in the earlier part of a season. With 85% of the Penguins season still left to play, it’s a bit too early to hit the panic button. Ray Shero touched on this when he spoke to Jason Seidling this afternoon.
“I keep saying this, but if he is going to miss the first 12 games, 30 games or whatever it is, it’s much tougher to hear that a guy is going to miss the remainder of the season when he gets hurt in February. We’ll move on and give some other guys more opportunities and kind of go from there.”Taking conservative estimates on Staal’s return, I did a few calculations. Let’s assume for argument’s sake that Staal returns to the ice for the December 20th matchup with Phoenix and plays all the remaining games. That would put him in the lineup for 49 games, almost 60% of the Penguins regular season.
While the injuries sustained in rather freakish accidents have delayed some of the Penguins plans and proved to be a bit of a challenge for Staal and his teammates, all is not lost. The important things right now are for Staal to heal and for the Penguins to continue to work on the areas where they are weak or inconsistent.
Bottom Line: Setback? Yes. Is the season over? Not even close. While we may be a few weeks from this bingo game being ready to roll, we don’t have to cry or wind our watches yet.