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Lightning don’t expect Steven Stamkos to start Stanley Cup final

The captain is still rehabbing, working his way back to the lineup.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos, left, on the ice while working on the power play with teammates at the start of training camp in July at Amalie Arena.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos, left, on the ice while working on the power play with teammates at the start of training camp in July at Amalie Arena. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Sep. 18, 2020

Steven Stamkos is skating, but he’s still not ready to play.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said Friday that the team isn’t ruling Stamkos out of returning but he doesn’t expect the injured captain to be in the lineup Saturday for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.

Stamkos took the main ice to celebrate making the Cup final with his team on Thursday. But he was wearing a jersey over his street clothes, not pads (and looked short as the only guy not on skates).

Related: Steven Stamkos joins the celebration after Lightning win the Eastern Conference final

BriseBois said Stamkos is still rehabbing. He’s been skating with the Lightning, but they haven’t had full practices. BriseBois did not give an indication of what Stamkos' timeline is.

He has not played a game since Feb. 25. He had core muscle repair surgery on March 2 with an expected six-to-eight-week recovery but took a long-term approach once the season paused and has had two setbacks since.

Stamkos' status has been a constant question throughout the playoffs. When he wasn’t seen for a while, fans started dissecting every video the team posted asking, “Is that our captain in the light shoes?" and if he’d left the bubble.

He’s there, he’s skating, but his status still hasn’t been answered.