Eric Staal got to Raleigh Center Ice a little after 10 a.m. Wednesday throwing on his skates for his first informal workout with some of his Carolina Hurricanes teammates.

"Always good to see the big guy back" Canes forward Pat Dwyer said.

Staal skated and stick-handled. He shot the puck played some two-on-two and had a few laughs with the guys.

If you didn't know Staal had suffered a major knee injury in May after taking a dangerous knee-on-knee hit you would have thought it was just another day at the rink for the Canes captain.

Staal didn't wear a knee brace or any tape. Nor he said has he had any setbacks during his physical rehabilitation.

"It felt good" he said of the knee after the on-ice work. "It has been no issue here the last little while. It's good to be back and it felt strong. I feel good."

Staal was pretty angry after the injury. Competing for Canada in the IIHF World Championship in Sweden he was hit on the right knee by Swedish defenseman Alex Edler who plays in the NHL for the Vancouver Canucks.

Staal suffered a third-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament. Edler was suspended by the International Ice Hockey Federation which called the collision reckless and dangerous.

Staal 28 didn't need surgery but his rehab started painfully slow. When he returned to Raleigh in early June to help unveil and model the Canes' new-look uniforms he was limping.

Staal noted that on his first time on a stationary bike he couldn't make a full turn of the pedal.

"It was slowly rocking back and forth basically until I got to that point" he said. "Then you slowly get more movement every day and every week it gets a little better then you start amping up the workouts a little."

It helped that goaltender Cam Ward went through similar rehab for a similar knee injury. Ward had a third-degree MCL sprain of his left knee during a March 3 game in Florida prematurely ending his season and he could offer advice and support for Staal.

"It was unfortunate to see that happen to him" Ward said. "I'm just happy to see him skating and working out with us and looking good."

Finally about two weeks ago Staal took to the ice for the first time in Thunder Bay Ont. There was some apprehension he said but not for long.

"I was a little tentative and nervous to see how it felt" he said. "There were five other guys skating and I just stuck to my one end and just did some crossovers and shot the puck. I actually felt fine. I felt like I normally would feel.

"It was a good thing and I was back on the ice two days later. it's been good since. I'm feeling really good now."