Monday, December 11, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Steven Stamkos to miss Olympics

Lightning and Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman said he worried that Wednesday's check of Steven Stamkos' broken right tibia would produce a "gray" result.

That is, one in which a discussion would be needed to decide if Tampa Bay's star center, out since Nov. 11, could be cleared to play Saturday at home against the Red Wings and for Canada at this month's Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

But the results of Wednesday's CT scan were clear, Yzerman said. Stamkos' bone is not completely healed. He is not cleared to play and is out of the Olympics.

"No, no setback. That's what we wanted to make clear," Yzerman said, adding that Lightning medical director Ira Guttentag "is very pleased with how (Stamkos) is functioning on the ice, off the ice, how the fracture looks and how the bone is healing. But there's only so much you can do. This takes time, and it's going to take more than 12 weeks."

Stamkos — who had a titanium rod inserted into the bone to promote healing and stability, and who has been practicing with the team — will be re-evaluated in two to three weeks, the timetable used throughout his rehabilitation.

"I am absolutely disappointed for 'Stammer,' " Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "I know how much his heart is into this. But this is a black-and-white issue. It's not a situation of 'Can he play his way through this?' "

"It's sad to hear," Penguins star and Canadian captain Sidney Crosby told Pittsburgh reporters. "If anyone could have come back from that, it's (Stamkos). We feel for him, but we obviously have to move forward."

Stamkos' inability to play sets up a potentially difficult situation for Yzerman, who must name a replacement for Canada and who passed over Tampa Bay captain Marty St. Louis when the team was named last month.

If St. Louis, clearly hurt by the snub, is not named, it would be the third time Yzerman has passed over the 38-year-old right wing, having also done so in putting together Canada's 2010 gold-medal-winning team.

Yzerman said a replacement will be named within 48 hours and that St. Louis, Pittsburgh's James Neal, Philadelphia's Claude Giroux and Carolina's Eric Staal could "potentially" be considered.

The men's Olympic tournament begins Feb. 12.

But the immediate story is Stamkos, 23, a two-time Rocket Richard trophy winner as the NHL's top goal scorer, who felt so good during practices that he said Tuesday that he had no reason to believe he would not be cleared.

But his first CT scan — scheduled as part of his final check for clearance to play — showed the callous at the fracture not 100 percent healed, Yzerman said.

"(This) is obviously very disappointing for me," Stamkos said in a statement. "I honestly believe we did everything possible in order to have my injured leg ready in time for the Olympics, but I realize you can't force healing. I know, in the best interest of my long-term health, I cannot represent Canada in Sochi, as much as I would like to."

With a re-evaluation in two to three weeks, the next target for Stamkos to return is Feb. 27 at Nashville, Tampa Bay's first game after the Olympic break.

"Mixed emotions about it," Yzerman said of Stamkos not being cleared. "You want to see him play. … But I'm encouraged by what the doctor told me as far as how the healing is and what we can expect."

Said Cooper: "The thing that came in my head was the Olympics came three weeks too early."

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