Just 12 weeks, or three months, after suffering one of the more gruesome injuries seen this NHL season Tampa Bay Lightning star forward Steven Stamkos has finally made public the news everyone’s been waiting for.
From multiple sources all across the web and Twitterverse, Stamkos is aiming to make his long awaited return this Saturday, Feb 8 when the Lightning host new Atlantic Division rival, the Detroit Red Wings. Incredible considering the expected recovery time of three to six months, with some analysts, reporters and doctors predicting the end of his season.
Now it looks as if he’s inches away from taking the ice once again and, if all goes well, representing his native Canada in the Sochi Winter Olympics beginning next week. For an almost 24 year old (he turns 24 this Friday, Feb. 7) left off the 2010 Gold Medal winning squad, that would certainly be a dream come true.
That being said, Stamkos has made it quite clear his participation hinges upon whether he feels capable of performing at the highest level on an incredibly large stage. In fact, he’s said this particular game will help him determine if competing in Sochi’s even a possibility.
As for the Lightning, there’s no denying the impact Stamkos has. He’s a leader, one of the team’s alternate captains, not to mention a threat all over the ice. His 14 goals and 23 points through 17 games were tops on the team prior to going down, and while captain Martin St. Louis, Valtteri Filppula, along with rookie sensation Tyler Johnson have picked up the slack, it’s clear the team missed his quick strike capabilities.
Will Stamkos get his wish of returning this weekend, possibly clearing a path to Sochi? Better yet, can he be effective? Unknown as it may be, the Lightning know one thing: a healthy Stamkos is key to them potentially making another deep playoff run, something Tampa Bay fans would certainly welcome after two disappointing seasons.