After skate with OHL Oshawa, Stamkos says "it was good to get back to that practice atmosphere"
For the past several weeks of the lockout, Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos has worked out in Toronto with fitness guru Gary Roberts and skated pickup games at the local rink. He turned it up a notch on Wednesday by skating with the Oshawa Generals of the junior Ontario League during a team practice.
"This was my first opportunity to get out there," Stamkos said. "They're a really good team this year, a good coaching staff, well-run practices, so it was good to get back to that practice atmosphere."
Stamkos, 22, who last season became the first NHL player in four years to score 60 goals and is friendly with Oshawa coach D.J. Smith, was joined by Penguins left wing James Neal and the Islanders center Josh Bailey.
"We had our own little line and jumped in and did the drills," Stamkos said. "For (the Generals), they're in game shape and mid-season form, so it was great to be out there and try to keep up with those guys and see how the legs felt. They actually felt pretty good and I had some fun. I'm excited the workouts and the skating I've been doing for the duration of the lockout is helping me stay as close to game shape as possible."
"It's even good for our coaching staff to see how guys do that at such a fast pace," Smith said. "It's great for our kids. That's obviously where our kids want to go, to play in the NHL against a guy like him or with a guy like him. It's great any time guys can come out with us. It only ups the pace of practice."
Stamkos said he will skate again Thursday with the Generals and most likely will be back in the Tampa Bay area next week to skate with teammates at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. But if the labor negotiations drag on, he said he "definitely" will go back and skate with Oshawa.
"I definitely enjoyed myself out there today," he said.