Rangers’ Staal Faces Indefinite Layoff After Puck Hits His Eye

New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal faces an indefinite layoff after being hit in the eye with a puck, the National Hockey League team said.

An ophthalmologist and a maxillofacial surgeon who examined Staal yesterday are optimistic that the 27-year-old will make a full recovery, the Rangers said in an e-mailed release.

The Rangers yesterday signed Roman Hamrlik, a former No. 1 draft pick and the National Hockey League’s active leader with 1,383 games played as cover for Staal.

Hamrlik, 38, has played in the NHL for 20 seasons, collecting 155 goals and 483 assists for six teams. The three-time All-Star, who played in four games this season for the Washington Capitals, ranks third among active NHL defensemen in career goals, assists and points.

Staal was forced to leave a 4-2 win over Philadelphia during the third period two nights ago after a slapshot by the Flyers’ Kimmo Timonen was deflected upward and struck the New York player in the right eye.

Staal, who didn’t have a visor on his helmet, fell to the ice and was writhing in pain while holding a hand over his bloodied eye.

Staal has two goals and nine assists this season, having played in all 21 games after a concussion forced him to miss the Rangers’ first 38 games last season.

The Rangers have an 11-8-2 record this season and face the New York Islanders tonight.

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