Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning won't use Stamkos injury as excuse

tom jones' two cents

Facing facts

At some point, Lightning coach Jon Cooper and his team are going to grow tired of talking about the devastating injury to star Steven Stamkos, but part of the reason the Lightning seems to be dealing with the bad news better than expected is because it isn't running away from it.

The easy thing to do is bury heads in the sand and say, "Steven is out. We're not going to talk about it. We're going to be just fine.''

Cooper really does believe the Lightning will continue to be successful without Stamkos, but he's smartly admitting that his team has suffered a big loss and that it takes time to get over such a loss. To act as if nothing has happened not only would be disrespectful to Stamkos, but it would suggest Cooper isn't realistic. By saying and acting the way he is, Cooper is gaining more credibility, especially with his team.

As far as Cooper is concerned, yes, the Lightning will miss Stamkos. And, yes, the team remains somewhat shaken emotionally. But no, it's not the end of the world.

And Cooper isn't about to use the injury as an excuse, because that would be disrespectful, too — to the rest of his team.

The list

As we were reminded again last week with Steven Stamkos broken tibia (right), hockey is a rough sport. And the Lightning has had its share of gruesome injures. A look at the five worst — and ugliest — in Lightning history:

Aaron Gavey: In a game in 1996, Gavey was hit in the face by a skate blade of teammate Michel Petit. Gavey was sliced from near his right eye, down his cheek, across his lips and to his chin. Result: 120 stitches. He missed only eight games.

Darryl Sydor: In January 2006, a deflected puck hit him in the face. The puck was moving so fast and the slice was so sharp that Sydor didn't realize he was cut until blood started pouring down his face. He required 70 stitches, yet, with the protection of a full face shield, returned for the next game.

Shawn Burr: He was slashed by a stick on the left hand during a game before Christmas 1996. Burr pulled off his glove and found the tip of his ring finger missing. Doctors attempted to reattach it, but it didn't take.

Dan Boyle: In one of the most bizarre injuries in sports history, Boyle was severely cut on his left arm in September 2007 when one of his skates slipped off a hook above his locker. The blade ripped through the arm, severing two abductor tendons and an extensor tendon. He missed half the season.

Reid Simpson: During a fight in the 1999-2000 season, Simpson was hit so hard by the Islanders' Eric Cairns that his chin bone was split in two. Yuck.

Media tidbits

One of the better Fox announcing teams — top-notch play-by-play man Sam Rosen and analyst Heath Evans — will call today's Bucs-Falcons game, which mercifully is going out to just 8 percent of the country.

• ESPN had a big night last week broadcasting the college basketball showdown between No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 Michigan State. The game averaged slightly more than 4 million viewers.

Talkers magazine came out with its annual 100 "Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America." Mike Francesa from New York's WFAN topped the list, followed by Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton (WFAN, New York), Jim Rome (CBS), Dan Patrick (Fox Sports Radio) and Mike Valenti and Terry Foster (WXYT, Detroit). The only local host to make it was WDAE-AM's Steve Duemig, who came in at No. 85.

Three things that popped into my head

1. I heard from a lot of Gator fans last week who were not pleased to hear athletic director Jeremy Foley give football coach Will Muschamp what amounted to a vote of confident. Despite going 11-2 a year ago, including victories against Georgia, South Carolina, LSU and Florida State, Muschamp this season would be on a very hot seat — maybe even one connected to an eject button — if it were up to many in Gator Nation.

2. The latest guy who needs to shut his yap: baseball agent Scott Boras. We don't want to hear what you think about Tampa Bay as a baseball market. Just go back to doing what you do best: ruining baseball by holding up owners to overpay your clients.

3. Know who should win the Heisman Trophy? The guy who won last year. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel still is the best — and by far the most exciting — player in college football. And if I ran an NFL team, I wouldn't hesitate to draft him.

   
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