Steven Stamkos is finally on the mend again. The Lightning’s captain underwent a second core repair surgery Wednesday.
This was the same procedure Stamkos had back on March 2, but this time on his left side. The team believes he incurred the injury due to his body overcompensating for the weakened right side.
The Lightning expect Stamkos to be fully recovered once a new season starts, for which the NHL is targeting Jan. 1.
Stamkos was skating when the league opened facilities to small groups in June and on track to play when the season restarted. Then a new ailment took him back off the ice.
At that point, he didn’t require surgery. As Stamkos kept rehabbing and trying for a quick return, the tear on the left side formed and worsened.
In addition to the team’s medical staff, Stamkos saw other NHL doctors. He was unable to see a Dr. Michael Brunt, who performed the original procedure and eventually the second one, until the team left the bubble.
Stamkos played in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, when he had gotten to the point that the medical staff could do no more. He wanted to test his readiness. Stamkos may have made it more than five shifts had he not taken contact directly to his weak point. After that, he was unable to play.
Those three minutes, and an impressive goal, gave his team an emotional boost. In talking about their favorite moments of the playoffs, most of his teammates named Stamkos' goal.
Core muscle repair was once referred to as a sports hernia, but the term is misleading. A hernia involves the intestines poking through weakened musculature, while a core muscle injury is a tear where the abdominal muscles meet the groin.
The strides of skating are not a natural movement for the human body, which is why it tests those muscles the most. Players who have had the same procedure report varying experiences with the recovery.
“Sometimes you can’t feel it, and once you step on the ice, it comes right back,” said Flames center Sean Monahan, who had two surgeries in the 2017-18 season.
Flyers center Claude Giroux said it took him about nine months to feel like himself after core muscle repair and hip surgery in May 2016. Former Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk had the procedure done in 2015, while playing in St. Louis, and returned in about six weeks. Penguins center Sidney Crosby needed about eight weeks earlier this season. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron had the surgery in the 2017 offseason and was ready to go when training camp started.
The good news is completing the second repair, the doctor found the original procedure holding up well with no issue.
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The Lightning expect that to help Stamkos' recovery this time, with both sides of his body surgically reinforced. There are always potential complications — rushing the rehab process can cause another compensation issue or re-injure the repair site — but they believe there’s time to manage that.
Tyler Johnson clears waivers; Zach Bogosian moves on
Forward Tyler Johnson cleared waivers Saturday, and there isn’t a clear next step for the sides as the Lightning try to clear more space under the $81.5 million salary cap.
Also, free-agent defenseman Zach Bogosian signed with the Maple Leafs for one year and $1 million. And the Lightning signed defenseman Andreas Borgman and goaltender Chris Gibson to one-year, two-way contracts. Financial terms weren’t announced.
After finding no takers for Johnson in trade talks, the Lightning put him on waivers Friday. Johnson carries a $5 million cap hit for each of the next four years. He has a no-trade clause, but he had offered the organization a list of teams for which he would waive it.
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