Staal's foot still not healed; Penguins forward to miss start of season

Penguins forward Jordan Staal needs five to six weeks to recover from the latest procedure performed on his injured right foot and will miss the start of the NHL season.

A tendon on the top of Staal's foot was sliced when Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban stepped on it during an April 30 playoff game. Staal had surgery and returned to play in less than a week.

After the Penguins were eliminated in the series, Staal had two additional procedures to remove infected tissue in the foot, including another operation. Staal also required treatment with antibiotics.

The 22-year-old Staal has never missed a regular season game to injury in four NHL seasons, but has done little skating this summer because of the injury. A finalist for the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward, he wore a walking boot and was on crutches during the NHL awards dinner June 23.

"Jordan developed a post-op infection in his foot, and it required several procedures to ensure that all infected tissues were removed," Penguins physician Charles Burke said in a statement released by the team.

"Jordan was bothered by a localized recurrent infection in the tissue area near the tendon repair. This has required treatment with both antibiotics and several repeat debridements (clean-outs) to remove infected tissue. We are confident the situation has been resolved."

The Penguins open training camp Friday and begin the season Oct. 7 at home against Philadelphia. If Staal returns in five weeks, he could play as early as Oct. 21 at Nashville.

"The most important thing now is that the infection has been addressed and Jordan is on the road to recovery," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. "While we know he is disappointed that he will miss the start of the season, he will now be able to make a full recovery and get back on the ice early in the season."

Staal had 21 goals and 28 assists last season and led the Penguins with a plus-19 rating. He had a career high 29 goals as a rookie in 2006-07.

Staal usually centers the Penguins' No. 3 line, but is expected to move up to their No. 2 line this season with Evgeni Malkin shifting from center to a wing to play alongside him.

The Penguins didn't have the salary cap room to add an expensive forward after signing defensemen Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek, and putting Malkin and Staal together could give them another scoring line to complement Sidney Crosby's No. 1 line.

The Penguins did not re-sign forward Bill Guerin, so finding a linemate for Crosby — a recurring theme — will be a priority during camp.