Veteran Eric Staal is savoring his career's second act
with the Minnesota Wild
"I knew that I could still play at a high level and be effective in the right situation," said Eric Staal of his decision to sign with Minnesota after a frustrating 2015-16 season with Carolina and the New York Rangers.
It's not a particularly good joke, and perhaps at one point, even as recently as last summer, it might have seemed cruel or just plain stupid.
| Staal didn't score in the Rangers' first-round playoff series loss to|
the Penguins last spring -- and had only 13 goals all season, his
lowest total since he was a rookie with the Hurricanes in 2003-04
It was Staal's first playoff appearance since 2009. You wait all that time to get back to the dance, and then it's over in five games, and the future, once so sparkly and enticing, somehow didn't seem so promising anymore.
Staal's 26 goals are his most since 2010-11, and his 58 points are the second-most on the Wild this season.
Even given the Wild's recent woes -- they lost their fifth game in a row Sunday, when they fell to the in what was Staal's 1,000th NHL game, and their sixth game in a row Tuesday, in overtime, against the -- this team still represents Staal's best chance to go deep in the playoffs since 2009.
Of course, he ponders what it might be like, how it might feel to share those special moments with his young family.