Alain Vigneault put the heat on veteran Marc Staal on Thursday saying the 11th-year defenseman not only needs to fight for ice time but a spot on the team, but Staal doesn’t appear to be feeling any added pressure.
“It’s his opinion,” Staal said Friday morning of Vigneault’s comments. “I’m not naive. I don’t take anything for granted. I’ve come to camp with that mindset every year. You’ve got to earn your minutes. That doesn’t change my mindset going forward.”
Staal, 30, began last season well until a concussion kept him out for most of January, and he never quite looked the same the rest of the season.
“There’s some ups and downs obviously with every year,” Staal said. “It took me a while after I got injured there to get back to where I wanted to be. Anytime you lose like you do against a team like that in the second round (Ottawa), on a personal level you need to be better. It goes for me, and you want to be at your best getting into those situations. The goal this year is to build on that starting from today to be at your best come that time again.”
Marc Staal and the Rangers suffered a bitter defeat to the Senators in second round of playoffs.
(Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)
Several young defensemen in training camp like Anthony DeAngelo, Neal Pionk and Alexei Bereglazov will have an opportunity to push Staal and fellow veteran Nick Holden for ice time. Staal has designs on fending them off.
“I’ve been a Ranger a long time and I plan on being a Ranger for a lot more years,” said Staal, who has four years left on his contract. “I’m excited to get started and help this team win some games and get started on the right foot.”