By Allan Muir
Memo to Team Canada: You might get to use that Olympic roster spot for Steven Stamkos
Two weeks after having surgery to repair his fractured tibia, the Tampa Bay Lightning
star walked into a press conference today...without crutches or a walking boot.
Miraculous? Stamkos seems to think so.
"I didn't think I'd be walking," Stamkos said
, adding that he'd been getting around without crutches for the past two days.
He also confirmed that he still has his sights set firmly on the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Stamkos called it "a best-case scenario,"
but said he hoped he could start working on his rehab, get in shape and play a few games for Lightning and still go to Sochi.
The original estimate for his recovery was three-to-six months, so these developments suggest that he's embarking on an ambitious path. Stamkos says he won't rush things, but that's easy to say now with Sochi still a couple of months off. It'll be a lot tougher to hold to that claim as the Games draw closer.
Even if he's able to participate, it's unlikely that Canada will get Stamkos at his best. Though he's known as one of the game's most dangerous snipers, it's his explosive skating and ability to quickly dart into open areas that make him so deadly. If he doesn't have that jump, he won't be as effective.
Not that that's likely to matter much to Team Canada. Coach Mike Babcock said right after Stamkos was injured on Nov. 11 that he will have a roster spot reserved until the start of the tournament, at which point the team will have to decide whether to bring Stamkos to Russia or rely on a last-minute replacement.
Lost in all this is that the Lightning could have Stamkos back in their lineup by February. That would be a game changer for the Bolts, who have lost four straight and scored just six goals in the process.
From Damien Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times