Stamkos says he'll come back stronger

Tampa Bay Lightning star winger Steven Stamkos underwent successful surgery to repair a broken tibia on Tuesday.

Now comes the grueling effort to get back into shape and stay in consideration for the Canadian Olympic team.

Stamkos’ general manager in Tampa, Steve Yzerman, is also the executive director of the Canadian Olympic team. He said Stamkos’ game reached a new level this season and he had his sights set higher than even putting on a Canadian jersey in February in Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Olympics.

"You know what, he’s very proud. He’s a great player. They all want to play in the Olympics. It’s an exciting time. He’s elevated his game at this early stage of the season to a level beyond last year in all aspects of his game,” Yzerman told reporters after the NHL’s general managers’ one-day meeting in Toronto on Tuesday.

"He’s been tremendous. I think even beyond the Olympics he’s motivated to be the best player and not just the best scorer, the best player in the world. This injury isn’t going to discourage that if you know him," Yzerman said.

Stamkos was injured after crashing into the net midway through Monday’s game against the Boston Bruins. He was removed from the ice on a stretcher, clearly in tremendous pain.

He was tied for the league lead in both goals and points at the time of his injury.

One of the team’s trainers stayed with Stamkos at the hospital and was going to meet with doctors at the end of the day Tuesday to go over the rehab protocol that will follow the surgery. There were no reported complications during surgery and Stamkos will begin rehabbing his leg immediately, Yzerman said.

“In regards to the Olympics, we’ll wait and see. I don’t have a time frame on how long he’s going to be out. I do know when they tell me it’s going to be a pretty broad range so I expect him, again knowing him and being young, he’ll be on the shorter end of the rehab process," Yzerman said.

The Hall of Fame player-turned-GM spoke briefly with his franchise player Monday evening.

"In the brief period that I did speak with him, I guess not surprisingly if you know him, but particularly upbeat. He said, 'you know I’ll come back stronger than ever.' So all things considered, he was in good spirits," Yzerman said.