Staal returns from nearly year-long absence with concussion for Winter Classic

PHILADELPHIA – New York Rangers defenceman Marc Staal made his return to the lineup after a nearly year-long absence from a concussion.

Staal, who turns 25 in January, has been out all season because of the effects of a concussion sustained in February when he was hit by his brother, Eric, a forward for the Carolina Hurricanes. He has been skating this month and was cleared for light contact.

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Staal was set to make his debut Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Winter Classic.

Rangers Coach John Tortorella said Saturday that nothing had changed and he did not expect Staal to play. Staal practised Saturday and was on the ice for warmups before the Flyers game.