Eric Staal has MCL sprain, expected to start 2013-14 season

Jamie Kellner

Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has been diagnosed with a third-degree MCL sprain but should be able to return to start the 2013-14 season.

Hurricanes fans are breathing a collective sigh of relief this morning as the organization announced the status of team captain Eric Staal, who suffered a knee injury while playing in the IIHF World Championships on Thursday. Based on MRI and medical staff evaluation, Staal has been diagnosed with a third degree MCL sprain, and while still a significant injury, he will not require surgery, and the recovery timeline should allow Staal to be healed in time for the start of the 2013-14 season.

Following is the official press release from the Hurricanes.

RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test on team captain Eric Staal’s right knee revealed a third-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL). Surgery will not be required to repair the ligament, and Staal’s rehabilitation should last three months. It is expected that he will be healthy and ready to play to start the 2013-14 season.

Staal, 28, was injured when he took a knee-on-knee hit from defenseman Alexander Edler in the first period of Canada’s quarterfinal game at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships on Thursday in Stockholm, Sweden. Edler received a five-minute major kneeing penalty and a game misconduct by the game’s officials. On Friday, the IIHF Independent Disciplinary Panel determined that Edler should have received a match penalty as a result of the play and suspended him for the remainder of the tournament.

In his nine NHL seasons, Staal has missed just 14 games, and only 12 of those due to injury/illness, having played in 690 of Carolina’s 704 regular-season games (98%) since the beginning of his rookie year of 2003-04. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only Henrik Sedin (VAN – 698), Martin St. Louis (TB – 697), Joe Thornton (BOS-SJ – 693) and Olli Jokinen (FLA-PHX-CGY-NYR-WPG – 692) have played more regular-season games than Staal in that time frame. The Thunder Bay, Ont., played in a Hurricanes-best (since relocation) 349 consecutive games from March 20, 2004-Nov. 1, 2009, and he currently holds the team’s longest active games-played streak of 149 games, dating back to March 1, 2011.

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