TAMPA — Exactly two weeks after breaking his right tibia, Lightning star Steven Stamkos walked without any aids into a news conference Monday and said he still hopes to play this season.
"That's the goal and hopefully that's the reality when it is all said and done," Stamkos said in his first public comments since breaking his leg in a game at Boston on Nov. 11 when he slammed into the goalpost.
Stamkos, however, refused to give an exact time frame and it's still way too early to tell when or even if he will be able to play this season.
"You never know with the way you feel on a daily basis," Stamkos said. "Some days it's good, some days it's sore. But, as of right now, it feels pretty good."
Stamkos said he already is encouraged with his recovery.
"I would like to think that being able to walk two weeks after without the crutches or the walking boot is a good sign," Stamkos said.
At the time of his injury, Stamkos was leading the NHL in goals and scoring. During the game against the Bruins, Stamkos was back-checking when he was bumped from behind by Boston's Dougie Hamilton.
Stamkos crashed into the post and said he knew almost immediately that his injury was severe.
"I remember it pretty clearly," Stamkos said.
Stamkos immediately began pounding the ice with his fist.
"I don't know if that was more frustration than pain," Stamkos said.
Stamkos had surgery the following day as doctors inserted a permanent pin and screws into his tibia. On Sunday, he stepped out of a leg brace for the first time and was walking without aids Monday, albeit gingerly and with a noticeable limp.
"Pretty good, considering," Stamkos said when asked how he was feeling. "I didn't think I'd be walking on my own without a boot or crutch less than two weeks after surgery, but it's pretty amazing, the work that can be done. I already started rehabbing and things are pretty good."
The Lightning won its first two games without Stamkos, but now have lost four in a row going into tonight's game against the Rangers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.