No date set for Staal's return

Updated: January 6, 2010, 1:27 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Eric Staal is taking a leave of absence from the Carolina Hurricanes because of the death of his sister-in-law.

The Hurricanes said Wednesday that they granted the All-Star forward the leave after his wife's sister, Tamara Stephenson, died of cancer at age 26.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with [wife] Tanya and Eric during this difficult time for their family," general manager Jim Rutherford said in a statement.

Staal, named to Canada's Olympic team last week, shares the Hurricanes' scoring lead with Ray Whitney with 27 points, and has a team-best 19 assists.

It is not clear when Staal will return to the team.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.