Steven Stamkos May Return In Time for Olympics
Canada was in shock when Tampa Bay Lighting forward Steven Stamkos fell awkwardly into the goal net on November 11th, 2013. He tried to get up and realized that standing was beyond impossible; instead he was stretchered off the ice and sent to the hospital. He underwent x-rays and found out he had a multiple fracture in his tibia. Stamkos required surgery, and this was done the following day remaining in Boston as the Lightning continued on the road (playing in Montreal the following day).
Since the surgery, Stamkos has been back in the Florida area where he has been undergoing rehab and recovering under the watchful eye of Lightning trainers and doctors. In what has been an amazing recovery to date, Stamkos was seen walking without crutches just about two weeks after the surgery, even visiting teammates. This was a first indicator that his recovery may be faster than expected. A week later he was seen at the arena cheering on his teammates and presenting a silver stick to captain Martin St. Louis at centre ice for St. Louis’ 1000th NHL game.
Last week Stamkos hit the four week mark since breaking his leg and again went for x-rays to make sure everything was healing properly. The results showed even better results than the team expected. He was progressing slowly and was cleared to start skating on the ice this week (just a month after the break).
He is skating slowly and working on his stickhandling and passing with trainers and any players who arrive early on the ice before practice. However he is not yet cleared for full practices with the team. Even though there is no return date set, with the way he is progressing and from what many sources are saying, he could be back in time for February and possibly even make the Olympic team.
When he originally got hurt many were worried about his chances to join the Canadian Olympic team in Sochi, and the effect that losing one of the top goal scorers in the world would have on the team. It would now appear that fans may be able to breathe a sigh of relief, with the strong recovery that he is currently seeing.
The main question remains if he will be cleared to play before the Olympics. Stamkos has said that he hopes to get in a few NHL games with the Lightning before suiting up at the games. Another question would be whether or not the Lightning allow their franchise player to play in the games, although the answer may lie in the fact that the teams general manager, Steve Yzerman, is also the general manager of Team Canada. I have to believe that as long as he receives the proper medical clearance, Stamkos will be wearing the Red Maple Leaf in Sochi.
Hockey is a sport, and nearly every player will be injured at some point in their career whether such injury is short or long term. They should not return to the ice unless they are cleared 100%, no matter what the injury is. If they are rushed back to soon it can cause further injury and the player risks being out longer. The challenge is when a player is ready to come back there is a chance for a second injury to happen in training, at the gym, on the ice or even in their regular lives. It is the risk they are going to take and I think if Stamkos is ready for the Olympics that will be the risk they take.
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