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Lightning expect Steven Stamkos to start next season, whenever that is

“We’re talking about weeks of rehab, not months of rehab,” general manager Julien BriseBois said.
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, in center celebrates as he gets hugs from his team on stage during their Stanley Cup championship celebration at Raymond James Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020 in Tampa. From left is Andrei Vasilevskiy, Mikhail Sergachev, Stamkos, and  Nikita Kucherov.
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, in center celebrates as he gets hugs from his team on stage during their Stanley Cup championship celebration at Raymond James Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020 in Tampa. From left is Andrei Vasilevskiy, Mikhail Sergachev, Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 1, 2020|Updated Oct. 2, 2020

TAMPA — Though Steven Stamkos couldn’t finish the season because of injuries, the Lightning expect that he’ll be good to go next season. They just don’t know when next season will begin.

“We’re talking about weeks of rehab, not months of rehab,” general manager Julien BriseBois said Thursday. “We fully expect him to be ready for training camp.”

The NHL hasn’t set any start dates for next season.

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Stamkos had core muscle surgery March 2, and with a recovery timeline of six to eight weeks, he was hoping to be able to play in the second round of the playoffs, then scheduled for late April. Then the season was shut down March 12 because of the coronavirus.

When the league announced its plan to resume with a postseason in the summer, the expectation was Stamkos would be healthy for a playoff run. But just before training camp opened in July, BriseBois said Stamkos had suffered a leg injury and wouldn’t be a full participant. Stamkos said the injury was part of the ebb and flow of recovering from the surgery.

In March, Ryan Lingor, a Rangers team physician and the primary sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, told the Tampa Bay Times that core muscle surgery carries a high risk of complications during recovery. The repair can come undone or players can suffer compensation injuries. The latter is what the Lightning think happened with Stamkos.

Stamkos resumed practicing with the team after it entered the postseason bubble in Toronto on July 26. Then he stopped practicing. Eventually he resume skating, but his only postseason appearance was in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final. He played 2:47, all in the first period.

BriseBois didn’t have specifics on the injury because it hadn’t been possible for Stamkos to see a specialist without leaving the bubble, which would have required the captain quarantining before he could re-enter.

Stamkos is expected to see a specialist next week, after which BriseBois said they’d know more.

Stamkos was not the only player dealing with an injury in the playoffs.

Winger Alex Killorn revealed a few of those in some drunken honesty at Wednesday’s celebration rally. He referenced defenseman Erik Cernak playing with one shoulder and the groin injury that kept center Brayden Point out of two games in the Eastern Conference final. Winger Ondrej Palat was walking around with a heavy limp Thursday.

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at dnearhos@tampabay.com. Follow @dianacnearhos.

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