Last week, it was announced that Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos, who suffered a severely broken leg in November, was well ahead of his rehab. Not only was he seriously in consideration to make the trip to Sochi for Team Canada, there was actually talks of him possibly getting a game or two in with the Lightning just to make sure he was ready for the Olympics.
All of this optimism was dashed today, as the announcement was made that Stamkos has been ruled out for the Sochi games. Lightning GM and Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman told the media that his star forward’s leg has not completely healed, and will be reevaluated in two to three weeks.
“Although the doctor was very pleased to this point with the healing process,” Yzerman said, “he explained that the callus surrounding the fracture site is not 100 percent consolidated, and Steven will not be cleared to play in a game until that happens.”
It’s a crushing blow for Stamkos, who went from possibly not returning at all this season to almost making the Canadian Olympic team. Despite having surgery to repair the fracture, he was walking without crutches or a boot just a few weeks after the procedure. Many believed the intense rehab he went through was mainly due to his drive to represent his country in Russia. Now, he’ll have to wait another four years.
As far as Team Canada is concerned, despite losing Stamkos, they have plenty of options in terms of replacements. Some of the names expected to be considered include Martin St. Louis, Claude Giroux, Eric Staal, James Neal and Taylor Hall. It’s safe to say either of these players would be a solid substitution for the injured Stamkos.