General Mills' director of corporate communications said the company began the process of choosing a number of athletes to put on its cereal boxes more than a year ago.
"Normally, your guess is very very good," Catherine Jackson said.
"In this case, unfortunately, it didnt work out that way. But we have a great deal of pride about Eric being on our box."
Even though Staal isn't going to Sochi, the Cheerios boxes with his photo will still be distributed, Jackson said. He was the only male Canadian hockey player among the athletes General Mills chose to use for its Olympics promotion.
"We looked at all different components," Jackson said of the company's decision-making process when it comes to choosing athletes to feature on packaging.
"Who do we think is going to be on the Olympic team? Who do we hope is [going to] be on the Olympic team? We try to make sure that we give ... a broad representation from across the country. We look at athletes [who] are up-and-comers, ones [who] we think are more established, and we try to put a blend together."
Jackson said General Mills "had high hopes for Eric because of his experience in Vancouver and all of his history. Unfortunately we just had so many great players this year, it just didn't work out. We know he is going to be an avid fan of the Olympics, unfortunately from the sidelines this time. [He will be] a big supporter of the team, as we will be."