Steven Stamkos had his Olympic dreams shattered yesterday when he found out he would not be able to represent Team Canada in Sochi. Stamkos suffered a broken right tibia when he crashed into a goal post on November 11 in a game against the Boston Bruins.
Stamkos was looking at returning to the Lightning’s line up this Saturday, but recent X-rays showed that his leg had not recovered sufficiently enough for him to resume playing. Initially, there was hope that Stamkos would be able to return in time for the Sochi Olympics, but as the games drew closer Stamkos’ return became more and more unlikely.
The estimated recovery time for Stamkos’ injury was three to six months. Next Tuesday will mark three months since the injury occurred. Stamkos has missed 39 games since his injury, and saw his streak of 344 consecutive games played come to an end.
The Lightning forward was extremely disappointed that he would not be able to play for Team Canada on their journey for back-to-back gold medals. Stamkos did not play for Team Canada in 2010, and was hoping that he would be able to prove that he is able to compete with the best hockey players on the planet.
The loss of Stamkos will be a heavy blow to Team Canada in Sochi, as Stamkos had a league high 14 goals and 23 points before he shattered his tibia. Stamkos has one of the quickest and deadliest one-timers in the league and despite missing 39 games this season, Stamkos has the most goals in the NHL since the 2010 Olympics, with 164 goals in 250 games played.
Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager and Executive Director of Team Canada, Steve Yzerman, stated today that Tampa Bay Lightning captain and teammate of Stamkos, Martin St Louis, would serve as his replacement in Sochi. Many people believed St Louis should have been named to Team Canada’s Olympic roster in the first place, as he has had an outstanding season in the NHL this year.
The Lightning captain has 54 points in 56 games played this season, and despite not having Stamkos for most of year, St Louis has guided Tampa to third place in the Eastern Conference. St Louis was visibly upset when he was left off of Team Canada’s original roster and it has shown in his play on the ice. Since Team Canada announced its roster last month, St Louis has 16 points in 14 games played.
The 38-year-old right-winger from Laval, Quebec, will most likely be playing in his final Olympic games in Sochi. St Louis was a part of Team Canada in 2006, but was not selected to play on the gold medal winning team in Vancouver 2010. Throughout his tenure with the Lightning, Martin St Louis has won a Stanley Cup, Lester B. Pearson Trophy and an Art Ross Trophy for league MVP.
While St Louis may not provide the scoring punch that Steven Stamkos would, the 5’8″ Lightning forward provides the added sense of leadership and toughness that Team Canada needs. While Steven Stamkos’ dreams of representing his Country at the Olympics have been shattered, Martin St Louis will play with an added edge for his Lightning teammate and hope to add an Olympic gold medal to his impressive hockey resume. NHL players arrive in Sochi on Monday, and Team Canada will play their first game against Norway on February 13.
By Eric Kummel