No one can replace Steven Stamkos
November, 11, 2013
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com
First and foremost, you are concerned about the person, Steven Stamkos, who is about as genuine as they come in this game.
Seeing him writhe in pain, pounding his fist into the ice Monday afternoon, was a gut-wrenching sight.
Details are still fresh, and it’s not clear how long he’ll be out after breaking his right tibia, but if the reaction on the ice matches our worst fears, what a horrid situation.
Stamkos was enjoying another banner season, tied for the NHL lead in goals and points and helping the Tampa Bay Lightning to a surprise start in the standings.
It’s also an Olympic year, and Stamkos was penciled in on the top line for Team Canada as he got ready for his first Olympics.
With Team Canada’s first game 95 days away, his participation is obviously in doubt now.
What a brutal day for GM Steve Yzerman, impacted on two fronts: most importantly on his NHL team but also on the Canadian Olympic team he is assembling. In fact, Yzerman was slated to assemble the Team Canada management staff Tuesday night in Toronto to update its player list for the Olympic team.
You don’t replace Stamkos, not on the Lightning (where Stamkos participated in 44 percent of his team’s goals scored this season), but not even on Team Canada.
Short of losing Sidney Crosby, I'm not sure there’s a more damaging piece of news for Team Canada.
It is compounded by the fact that Rick Nash -- another preseason lock to make the Olympic team -- has not returned to play since his early-season concussion. He’s skated of late, though, so perhaps there will be good news soon.
Still, a sobering day on so many fronts, but most of all it’s the fans around the league who lose out the most. They're deprived of the game’s top goal scorer.