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Comments from Staal about his return

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Center JORDAN STAAL couldn’t stop smiling Saturday morning. He had good reason, as his long-awaited return will come for the Winter Classic tonight.

Staal, who hasn’t played this season, was even in a joking mood.

“Even you weren’t too bad during it,” he said, a reference to constant media attention about his status dating to the discovery last summer that his surgically-repaired right foot was infected.

Another infection would require a third surgery on that foot, and just when Staal was set to return in early November his right hand was broken by a puck.

“It was just crazy,” he said. “It really took me a couple of days to believe what was actually happening, that I wasn’t coming back.”

Staal added that he had not set the Classic, which will be played tonight because of rain this afternoon, as a comeback date. He only resumed practicing with teammates last Sunday.

“I wanted to come back as soon as I could,” he said. “This just kind of worked out.”

The Penguins didn’t escape their morning practice today without injury. Winger CRAIG ADAMS right hand was sliced and required stitches when his stick broke on a faceoff and cut the inside of his glove. It is not know if Adams will be available for the game.

–ROSSI

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Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

 
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