Well Jordan Staal has a reputation for being an ironman, however when Staal gets hurts, he gets hurt bad. Back in the 2010 playoff run with Pittsburgh, Staal had his tendons in his foot severed by an errant skate, have a read here for my coverage on that when I was writing for Brian Metzer.
Broken bones are a frustrating injury, especially in the lower body. You can play hockey with breaks in your hand or wrist, your production may be down, but you can still get on the ice.
Anything from the pelvis down, well it’s a big problem. You do get people playing with broken bones in a foot, or cracked kneecaps, but you see a big drop off in speed and the ability to change direction on the ice, basically you turn into a pylon.
Reports today from the Hurricanes notified us that Staal has a fractured left fibula, requiring surgery keeping him on the shelf for 3-4 months. Personally I think his ability to contribute positively to the Hurricanes this season is done, but let’s hope he does get back on the ice in a positive fashion for the Hurricanes.
Looking at the video I’m taking an educated guess the break is located at the distal (furthest away from the hips) end of the fibula.
This would be a Type C break, this type of break is traditionally the easiest to repair and recover from. The break is clean and doesn’t influence any ligaments by having any fibres detach from the bone.
A Type B is the messiest as the ligament will have some fibres detach from the bone and these will need to be reattached in the surgery. A Type A is difficult, however the ligaments do not need to be reattached.
I take this opinion of the type of break due to the angle which Staal falls and also the fact he wears a skate. The Type C break would be at the top of the boot, a skate is designed to restrict movement in this area, hard pressure through the distal end of the fibula with a twisting rotational motion, and Staal’s bone breaks.
Staal has been slated to miss 3 to 4 months so 12 to 16 weeks. This timetable will be determined from how long it takes for his leg to fully heal. 6-8 weeks is the average time for bones to heal, however it can take up to 12 weeks before a surgeon is happy enough to allow the rehab program to begin.
One bonus athletes have over us normal people is their bone density. There is a reason that everyone should do some form of resistance training, it helps with bone density. So Staal’s fibula has a good chance of repairing in the shortest period possible.
If Staal does take 6 weeks to heal, his next challenge is to get back into game shape. This will be harder than it sounds. One of the issues with a lower limb injury is the atrophy of his muscles in his left leg.
It can be frustrating trying to get his left leg back to ‘ground zero’ just so he can start building up his strength again to get power back in his skating stride.
One of Staal’s skill sets is his ability to stay on his skates with contact and push off quickly to create separation. He may not have lighting fast top speed, but the strength involved to play as he does is very important.
Rushing back on the ice will be tempting for Staal and the Hurricanes, who are looking for an improved performance this season (many will argue they should bottom out this year, but that is a conversation for another blog).
An injury like this is why all year testing is important. Coming into camp the Hurricanes will have a baseline of all of Staal’s physical testing. He should not get back on the ice until he can replicate those results.
I am assuming that single leg squats for distance and for height were tested, along with full squat 1 repetition max. These tests will allow the Hurricanes to know Staal is back to full strength before he starts taking contact again.
Very rarely do players come back the same player post break, it usually takes 12 months before they are the same. If the Hurricanes do have a tough year, Staal could very well be the best third line center in the NHL for the 2015-16 season.
Thanks for reading.