Crosby hopes Stamkos can play in Olympics
While Lightning star center Steven Stamkos is making a speedy recovery from a broken right tibia, it's still uncertain whether he'll be able to play for Team Canada in next month's Olympics.
But count Penguins star Sidney Crosby, the captain of Team Canada, as one who hopes Stamkos will join him in Sochi, Russia.
"It'd be great," Crosby told the Times. "With what he brings, the player he is, especially on that bigger ice, he could be very successful."
Crosby said he reached out to Stamkos via text message shortly after finding out the Lightning center suffered the gruesome injury in Boston on Nov. 11. With Crosby having missed 10 months in 2012 due to concussion issues, the former MVP knows what it's like to have an uncertain recovery from injury.
"I just saw the clip and I was kind of in a similar position, where you do something and the time frame, you really don't know what it's going to be like," Crosby said. "I just said, 'Hey, saw what happened. Hope you're doing okay.' Didn't look good at the time, didn't know what was wrong. Said, 'Hope you're better soon and hope to see you back out there.' Like I said, I was in that position and it's nice to hear from other guys and encourage you, because it's not a fun time."
Stamkos returned to the team's morning skate last week, still wearing a red jersey for injured players, and hopes to play for the Lightning a couple games in early February before the Olympics. Stamkos has said he'd only play in the Olympics if he were 100-percent ready.
Crosby, considered one of the world's best players, said he enjoys watching Stamkos, a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner, and has noticed how his game has evolved.
"You like to learn, it's nice to watch other guys and obviously he's a guy who produces pretty consistently and creates a lot," Crosby said. "You always learn what works for some guys, doesn't always work for others. But you see why he gets the success, the way he competes every night and a lot of times it's not a secret. When you look at him and (Marty St. Louis), the way they compete is probably a big reason they're so consistent. On top of that, you look at their skills, they're probably two different players but they way they create things is fun to watch when you're not playing against them.
"Seeing Steven, he's probably around the net a little bit more, I've noticed the last couple years. He's always known for that big shot, but I think he's scoring a little bit more down and around the net. I'm sure he understands there's more to be had down there. I'm sure now that he's down there and now that one-timer opens up a little more. He's really a student of the game, you can tell, and that's probably a big reason why he's able to consistently produce."
When it comes to St. Louis, who was snubbed by Team Canada, Crosby says the Lightning captain did "everything he could" to be in position to be selected. St. Louis has 25 goals, including four in Saturday's loss to San Jose, and 25 assists for 50 points in 50 games.
"I mean, he was right there," Crosby said. "I don't think any of us could have exactly picked the team, there's so many tight decisions and tough ones. But, yeah, definitely he was a guy that I was thinking was going to be there. He was right on the bubble, as (well) as probably 10 other guys where you could kind of mix and match. But ultimately you could tell it wasn't an easy decision for that whole group. When they were announcing the team, you could just tell it looked like they were all pretty stressed out in a room for a few days. As nice and as much of a luxury it is to have so many great players, it was probably pretty difficult to not pick some guys, especially with Marty being in Tampa and (Steve Yzerman) being the (general manager) there. I don't think there's ever an easy way to do it, but I don't think it was a lack of success on Marty's part. He's done everything I think he could to be in that position."