Steven Stamkos said he is so focused on the now – "what we have to do to help this team win" – he sometimes losses track of all that happened in the past.
"I just lose the fact that there were so many steps that it took to get back," the Lightning captain said. "But when I do have time to reflect on it, it was a pretty long haul."
About four months to be exact, the time it took to rehab from a fractured right tibia that required surgery to fix and the insertion of a titanium rod to facilitate healing.
With 10 goals and 14 points in his first 16 games since his return from an injury that likely won't be completely healed until next season, Stamkos, 24, is the nominee of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the Masterton Trophy given for perseverance and dedication to the sport.
"I think it's a great honor," Stamkos said. "When all is said and done in your career you want to be known as a guy who loved the game, is dedicated and worked extremely hard. This year was that adversity moment for me."
Because of the injury Stamkos, 24, could not play for Canada at the Olympics. He also had to deal with his own emotions and the team's upheaval after the trade on March 5 of his long-time teammate and one of his best friends, Marty St. Louis, to the Rangers.
But it was the rapid recovery from injury and return to such a high caliber of play that earned Stamkos the nomination.
"At the same time there are guys in the past and still guys who have dealt with much bigger issues than what I had to go through," Stamkos said. When you put it on a scale like that it's still an honor, but I'd expect a lot of guys in this league to do the same thing to get back and be with their teammates."