Stamkos surgery goes well, GM Steve Yzerman says; Brown, Korobov called up from AHL Syracuse
Steven Stamkos' surgery Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital went well, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told reporters at the GM meetings in Toronto, and he is expected to make a full recovery.
The question is how long will it take? Best-case scenario seems to be three months (that is what Stamkos' father, Chris said he was told), though it could be longer. The Lightning has yet to provide any updates.
"The good news," Stamkos' agent, Mark Guy, wrote in a text message, "is he will make a full recovery."
That said, a day after Stamkos broke his right tibia crashing into a goal post at TD Garden, the focus shifted from what happened to how the Lightning will cope with the loss of its best player perhaps for the rest of the season. Even under the best-case recovery scenario, it seems highly unlikely Stamkos will play for Canada in February at the Sochi Olympics.
Tampa Bay also has injury issues on the blue line as defensemen Sami Salo (lower body) and Keith Aulile (upper body) were hurt in Monday's 3-0 loss to the Bruins and will not play tonight at Montreal
The first moves came Tuesday as right wing J.T. Brown and defenseman Dmitry Korobov were called up from AHL Syracuse.
Crunch general manager Julien BriseBois said those two were called up "we felt they will give us the best chance to win tonight in Montreal. After tonight we'll reevaluate and see what we need for Thursday's game (at home against the Ducks)."
Only a handful of players skated at the Bell Centre on Tuesday so how the players will line up against the Canadiens was difficult to determine, though with Brown, a wing, as a call-up, someone (likely Alex Killorn or Brett Connolly) will have to switch to center. The only thing for sure is Ben Bishop will get the start in net.
"Are we going to miss him, no question. That's an understatement," coach Jon Cooper said of Stamkos. "But Stammer didn't score until his fourth game of the year this year and we were 2-1 going into that game."
Captain Marty St. Louis said that while Stamkos' goals will be missed, it is the team's defensive structure that has been the key to the Lightning's 12-5-0 start that has it on top of the Eastern Conference. That structure will not change.
"But that structure is going to be even more important now," St. Louis said. "Guys are going to have to step up. We're all well aware of what kind of piece we lost, but we have to move forward collectively."
How confident is he the struture will hold?
"I'm very confident," he said. "I think it's gotten us where we are right now. Obviously, Stammer's goals are going to be missed. But other guys are going to have to score, and it starts with me."
As for Brown and Korobov, BriseBois said both have in the past year made great strides with the Crunch.
Brown, 23, has four goals and 10 points in 13 games and is tied for the team lead with 42 shots on goal. He also played five games with the Lightning after he was signed in March 2012 out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth and had one assist.
"He's been really good," BriseBois said. "He's been one of our best forwards at Syracuse. he plays a strong two-way game, is responsible. He's got speed and he's really improved his shot ove the last year, so he's more of a threat to score goals. His game is just coming into maturity now."
Korobov, 24, signed as a free agent in August 2012, has six assists in 13 games for Syracuse. But at 6 feet 3, 225 pounds, his is not necessarily an offensive game.
"He's big, he's strong, he's good with the puck and can finish his checks hard," BriseBois said. "He has a well-rounded two-way game. This is going to be a good experience for him. As he gathers more and more experience, we think he will eventually establish himself as a real NHL defenseman."
Other stuff from the morning: There was a little bit of defiance from Cooper, who reminded that not many, if anyone, predicted the Lightning to be a factor in the Atlantic Division. "Sixteen games ago I'm not sure anyone in this room was picking the Tampa Bay Lightning to be anything but someone teams were going to pass on their way to the playoffs," he said. "I think we were just starting to get to the point where people were starting to look at us and say, 'These guys might be for real.' In the second period last night (when Stamkos was hurt), all those people who thought we were going to be for real are back down saying, 'Okay, those guys are done.' Everyone in that room is like, 'Let's prove to everyone we're not a fluke.' We're up near the top of the standings for a reason and we're going to stay there." ... The thing that hurts most about Stamkos' injury is it happened while he was doing exactly what he was supposed to, back-checking hard into the defensive zone. "It's an awful situation you hope to never see again," Cooper said. "But he did it working his tail off. I'm so proud of him."