THE CANADIAN PRESS
HALIFAX — Eric Staal has left the Canadian team at the IIHF World Hockey Championship after the death of his grandfather.
He travelled back to Thunder Bay, Ont., today and will attend the funeral Wednesday.
Staal will miss Wednesday’s quarter-final game against Norway but will rejoin the team in Quebec City for the semifinals if it advances.
Teenager Sam Gagner will dress in his place against the Norwegians.
He is Canada’s extra forward at this tournament and has watched the first six games from the press box.
Staal won gold at last year’s world championship and had four goals and seven points in six games here.
Eric’s younger brother, Jordan Staal, skated in Philadelphia Tuesday morning where his Pittsburgh Penguins are preparing for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final. The Penguins forward will play in Tuesday’s game and fly out to Thunder Bay Wednesday morning to attend the funeral before returning to the team the same night.
"Well I just talked to my parents and I obviously want to be there," Staal said after Tuesday’s pre-game skate at Wachovia Center. "It’s definitely a difficult situation for myself especially the way things are going right now for me. But I think there’s bigger things than hockey sometimes and I’m just glad I can make it home."
Entering Game 3 on Tuesday night, Staal had three goals and one assist in 11 playoff games. He played in all 82 regular season games, recording 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points.
Defenceman Marc Staal of the New York Rangers was knocked out by Jordan’s Penguins in the second round while the season of younger brother Jared Staal is also over with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves.
Grandfather Staal watched all four boys play.
"He watched every single game last year I think for all three of us or all four of us," Jordan said. "He’s been a hockey fan and we’ve all been really close. It’s definitely a tough loss."