General Hockey

Walshy’s World: Looking at the Jordan Staal Setback

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(Ed’s note: Many of you may remember the amazing job Walshy did in breaking down JS11’s tendon injury during the playoffs… well, when he heard speculation about a possible setback he got to work on this amazing follow up. Though some of this might not be coming into play with Staal’s injury, Walshy has done his usual great job of breaking down all of the possibilities! Hope you all enjoy! – Metz)

By Cameron Walsh

By now I am assuming that all Pens fans have heard the bad news about Jordan Staal having some complications with his foot post op. If you are not a Penguins fan, this may have gone un-noticed due to the Kovalchuk contract and the Kariya concussion layoff (maybe that is something I might have a look at in the future too), the Price saga in Montreal, and the general flack the Leafs get at the moment.

I had about 5 options I was attempting to explain, and found I was getting all over the place with the guess work, that was about 10 days ago, when whispers of a nameless fear, complications, started leaking out from the Penguins about how Staal could miss the start of training camp. Then as the days went by more information filtered out and started making things a little easier for me to compile this blog.

I wrote an article back when the injury occurred and made it pretty obvious I was against Staal playing. There is playing hurt and then there is playing injured. I recently went for my first skate about 2 weeks ago and made a couple of realizations about how much work your feet do in relation to the finer movements on the ice. There is no way after surgery that all the movement in Staal’s skate did his tendon any favors by playing. The extra load on his injury would have done it/him no favors in his recovery over the summer.

Thankfully Ray Shero (Pens GM) has said the tendon itself is intact and strong. Nothing has changed with that. But he hasn’t had the opportunity to skate much. This will have a lot to do with the fact that Staal spent most of the summer in a moon boot after his second surgery in June. The boot is to stop movement and to minimize pressure on the foot.

I have gone looking around at some case studies and let’s say Jordan was lucky his tendon was not severed, some people were told, 1 year before they can run again. No matter if you are an athlete or a fan, it will all come down to how the tendon reattaches back to itself.

I ended up getting some help from one of my FTP cronies (Pug) and few peeps from around the traps (Powerhouse, that would be you) and put these 3 options together.

INFECTION

Now what we have heard out of the Penguins thus far is ‘all’ Staal has is an infection. This can happen after surgery, it is a risk anyone takes when they have surgery. Rob Rossi reported on the 2nd of Sept that Jordan was adamant the quick return in the Montreal “wasn’t really a factor” in the off season set back he is now having.

That being said, the more surgeries you have the greater the risk of infection. As you all know I was greatly against Staal coming back last year against Montreal, more so for his future development than the immediate need for him in that series. Yes he was needed then, but for a 21 year old to be putting a lacerated tendon on the line with surgery, knowing full well he would need a second one post Finals, to me was madness. He has a good 15 year career left, for me the risk was too large.

On top of this, there is the Golden Staph infection; this is one thing we don’t wish upon any person, even Flyers athletes. This can become so debilitating due to the fact that the strain becomes immune to the antibiotics used to treat it, that there is basically no cure to it. Vaccines are in the pipeline but are a while away.

Word is Staal should be back two weeks into camp and be set to go for the opener, I hope they are right. However for a player, who has barely skated or done a workout the whole off season or skated much, let’s see how it plays out.

(Matt Freed/Post Gazette

SCAR TISSUE

This issue was the one that seemed the most logical. You get cut open, have the tendon totally severed, put back together, it heals and there is a scar left. The scar tissue doesn’t dissipate and you are left with a couple of complications. Here is a couple; I had a little bit of help here from “Powerhouse”, so big fella, thanks!

Scar tissue can restrict synovial fluid production in the extensor retinaculum area of the foot. This creates friction, generating heat and thus swelling. As a rule it resolves itself over time but as we know a hockey player’s timetable is short. If this was the problem with Staal and not the infection, the solution this close to camp would have been surgery to clean up the scar tissue (obviously ignoring the infection rule previously stated sheesh!). This would then stop the swelling and allow Staal to get on the ice quickly.

There is a different way scar tissue can create issues. It will block fluid and have it fill in compartments of the foot, which creates swelling and pressure. This is slightly different than the first; once again if there was a larger time frame rest would be an option but there is not. For swelling in compartments there is a technique called Graston’s, this is a particular technique used to reduce scar tissue and swelling in compartments exactly like Staal could have been experiencing in his foot. This is a situation that over time had this non-evasive procedure not worked surgery could have been performed to go in and remove the fluid and scar tissue to speed up the recovery process.

2ND SURGERY

This would have been the worst of the three options and with the silence that originally came out from the Penguins when it leaked that Staal had done barely any training over the summer let alone any skating I was a little fearful that this one might have been possible. Once GMRS came out and said the tendon was as strong as ever I was relieved, but it wouldn’t be the first time or the last where we haven’t been told the full truth about an injury.

Guys so there it is the long winded and extremely convoluted wrap up on JS11’s foot problem. I know a few of you had forgotten about it over the summer. We had all been salivating over a Staal-Malkin combo, well I have a feeling we may have to wait a little as I don’t think Staal will make it to the home opener unfortunately (I hope I’m wrong). This could be why Comrie was signed just to fill that hole for a bit before doing the real role Shero envisions him to take in the lineup for Bylsma.

Thanks for reading guys, and as always fire away with questions and comments, I want to share as much as I can and trust me I am learning a heap as I go too.

**Melbourne, Australia’s own Cameron Walsh is a personal trainer by trade, he owns and operates dLuxe Health and Fitness. Walshy is a life long hockey/NHL/Penguins fan and he will be chiming in from time to time on various injuries that pop up in and around this game that we all know and love. He also bears a striking resemblance to the USS Hal Gill… just saying…

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About Brian Metzer

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Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian Metzer has been covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and National Hockey League since 2004. He is the host of Penguins Live Weekly, a show that airs Saturday mornings on 105.9 the X and iHeart Radio. He serves as the Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM, and is the NHL and Penguins correspondent for the Beaver County Times. Metzer is also a contributing writer for NHL.com and is the primary contributor for this site www.fromthepoint.com.

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4 Comments

  1. Gunner Staal

    September 4, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Great job Walshy, I enjoyed reading it.

  2. Rabid Mutant

    September 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    It is a huge benefit to have a knowledgeable and reasonable assessment of an injury. It cuts through all the BS conjecture and “the sky is falling” mentality that members of both the fan base and media tend to get caught up in.

    Great work.

  3. powerhouse

    September 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks Walshy. I think it is nice that the layman fan gets some clear and easy to understand info on injuries. I believe, based on experience it is best to go slow with tendon injuries especially since there has been an infection. Going slow allows the tendons and sheaths around them to smoothe out. If you rush it you get too much friction, heat you get swelling. That is scar soup basically. Swelling is protien soup that can creat scar and is to avoided.

  4. Walshy

    September 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    thanks guys,

    Like i said keep the comments coming, Powerhouse thanks for the help too, you know exactly where….

    I just wonder if Tangradi tried that Graston’s Technique on his wrist at all over his recovery?