Stamkos: Broken Leg Not Healed; Will Miss the Olympics
Even for a team that's loaded, Canada's hopes for more Olympic hockey gold took a major hit today.
Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos discovered that his fractured tibia is still fractured.
To say this was a major surprise -- to Hockey Canada, GM Steve Yzerman, and Stamkos himself -- is beyond an understatement.
One of the NHL's premier centers, Stamkos broke his leg on this play during a 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on 11 Nov.
To say Stamkos was having a career season up to that point belies the fact that, to date, he's been having career seasons once he got acclimated to the league throughout his rookie campaign in 2008-2009. Drafted first overall the spring before, Stamkos has lived up to every expectation since then and was presumed to play a key role in the Canadians repeating as Olympic hockey champions.
Prior to Yzerman's revelation, the debate had been centered on whether or not Stamkos should get a couple of games under his belt before the NHL took its break for the Olympics. His rehabilitation had seemingly gone according to plan, and he had been skating in practices with the Lightning. The fact that his tibia was still fractured underscores the intensity of his desire to skate for his country on the world's biggest stage.
What else can be said? He's a hockey player.
Canada will now rely on its wealth of talent to name a replacement. Both Martin St Louis and Claude Giroux were shocking omissions when the national team roster was first posted. Now, one of them will be on his way to Sochi, and will easily fit into the team's plans.
But should Canada fall short of the medal platform's top step, the looming shadow of an absent mega-talent will surely cast its pall.