When Steven Stamkos broke is tibia on Nov. 11, sliding into his own goal against the Boston Bruins, the prognosis for the Tampa Bay Lightning star was grim: The expected rehab time was 4-to-6 months, putting his spot on the Canadian Olympic team for the Sochi Games in doubt.
On Dec. 14, he was back on the ice, skating for the first time since his surgery. Which, one can say with some confidence, appears to have been moderately successful:
OK, so it’s not line rushes with Marty St. Louis quite yet, but it is another milestone in the quick recovery of one of the NHL’s premiere goal scorers.
So what about the Sochi Games? From NHL.com on Thursday:
Stamkos will officially have until Feb. 11, the day before the Olympic tournament begins, to prove to Canada's executives he should stay on the roster. However, that decision likely will be made by Canada executive director Steve Yzerman before the players travel to Russia on Feb. 9, and there's no way of knowing if Stamkos will even be back playing by then. Yzerman is also the general manager of Tampa Bay.
"Anything you can use as motivation you try to use it, especially an event like that," Stamkos said of the Olympics.
"That's something you dream of as a kid, participating in that. I don't think it changes drastically, though. I want to get back as soon as I can where I know I'm 100 percent healthy and I'm not going to be a liability to the team. I want to get back to help the Tampa Bay Lightning win games."
Tampa with Stamkos? A record of 12-5-0. Without him, they’re 6-5-3. They’ve tread water, waiting for him to return. And it looks like he will sooner rather than later.