Eric Staal Injury: Updates on Hurricanes Star's Knee

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIMay 16, 2013

Carolina Hurricanes star center Eric Staal suffered a right knee injury while playing for Team Canada on Thursday during the World Championships.

UPDATE: Saturday, May 18, at 11:25 a.m. ET by Sam Westmoreland

Eric Staal has suffered a third degree MCL sprain, according to an official announcement from the Carolina Hurricanes. The talented center is expected to be out 3 months to recover.

Per the announcement: 

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.

---End Update---

Brian Stubits of CBS Sports broke the news, noting that Staal left in the first period of a quarterfinal matchup with Sweden. Video footage shows Staal colliding knee-to-knee with defenseman Alex Edler (h/t TSN), who plays for the NHL's Vancouver Canucks.

It is possible that Edler will face direr consequences than the five-minute major and game misconduct he received for the hit on Staal. According to Stubits, this offense may be punishable in the form of a suspension from the International Ice Hockey Federation, since Edler recklessly stuck out his knee while moving at such a fast pace.

Staal anguished on the ice in obvious pain after the collision, clutching his leg. Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer provided an update, per Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford:

The 28-year-old Staal serves as Canada's captain, and shoulders that responsibility for Carolina as well. Losing him for any significant time would be a big blow for the Hurricanes, and it already is for Team Canada.

This was oddly reminiscent of a similar clash between Staal and Andrei Markov of the Montreal Canadiens back in 2010. Staal walked away relatively unscathed, but Markov tore his ACL:

Carolina missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. The struggling franchise desperately needs a turnaround, and it would be particularly difficult to swallow without Stall, especially since he was hurt in an exterior, international competition.

Staal was on a scalding scoring pace in the lockout-shortened NHL campaign, notching 18 goals and 35 assists for 53 points in just 48 games.

Hopefully this setback won’t harm Staal’s promising career too severely as he enters his prime in his 10th pro season.