Thank you, Marc Staal
After 999 total games over 13 seasons with the Rangers, Marc Staal was traded to the Detroit Red Wings this past Saturday in a salary cap dump for the Blueshirts. The trade, which also included a 2021 second round pick going to Detroit, did not net the Rangers anything in return (technically, future considerations) other than cap relief for all of Staal’s $5.7M contract. This opens up a spot on the left side for one of the Rangers’ many prospect defensemen heading into next season, whether it be K’Andre Miller, Libor Hajek, or Yegor Rykov.
Before the eye injury in 2013 and the concussion in 2011, Staal was one of the best two-way defensemen on the Rangers. In recent years, he transitioned into more of a defensive blueliner that rarely chipped in on offense. In the four seasons before his brother Eric nailed him with a body check in 2011, Staal scored 81 points in 321 games and in the nine seasons since then he scored 107 points but in 571 games. He never eclipsed his career high of 29 points in 2011, and only once did he score 20 points in any of the following years. A lot of people say Staal wasn’t the same after this injury or after he took a puck to the face in 2013. But he was still a good defender and a key piece of the 2013-14 Rangers when they went to the Stanley Cup Finals and the year after when they won the Presidents’ Trophy. The combination of Staal and Kevin Klein was a solid, shutdown defensive pairing that helped the team out when they played the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. He was also a leader and a big part of the locker room both for the older squad and during the rebuilding years. Of all of the mistakes the Rangers made with their first round picks from 2000-2010, the Rangers certainly hit the nail on the head when they selected Marc 12th overall in 2005.
Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
One of my fondest memories of Staal was in the second round of the 2012 playoffs against the Capitals. It was Game 5 and the Rangers were down 2-1 with under a minute to go when Joel Ward took that double minor to send the Rangers to the man advantage. The series was tied at two games apiece, so this game was huge; the Rangers did not want to go down 3-2 in the series heading on the road. I was watching with my mom and dad and when Brad Richards tied the game with 6.6 seconds left I was screaming, jumping up and down. Once it got to overtime the Rangers were still on the power play and it didn’t take long for them to end the game. I remember John Mitchell (yes of all the players on the Rangers, John Mitchell) took the faceoff and won it back to Staal who skated towards the middle of the ice and slapped the puck past a whole bunch of Caps and Rangers sweaters and by Braden Holtby and I started jumping up and down again. The Garden went nuts, Staal’s face was red as his teammates surrounded him in celebration and I was in awe by the red, white, and blue streamers that poured down from the rafters. I remember watching the highlights of that game over and over again and it never got old to me. The expression of all of the Capitals, the image of Holtby sprawled out after reaching behind him with his glove to try and stop the puck, and Karl Alzner ready to break his stick in frustration are all memories engraved in my head. And even after 8 years I still get goosebumps watching highlights of that game. So with that, thanks for everything Staalsy and good luck in Detroit!