Steven Stamkos minus crutches, boot
Don't Bet Against Stamkos
It's been just two weeks since Steven Stamkos broke his leg, but there's cautious optimism about his recovery and a return for the Olympics doesn't seem impossible, writes Pierre LeBurn. Blog
The high-scoring center was injured Nov. 11 against the Boston Bruins. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher after crashing into the post. He had surgery the next day to stabilize a fractured shin bone and is now walking with a limp.
"To be able to do what I'm doing now and almost come back to a normal life, being able to just move around on your own, I'm definitely happy with that," said Stamkos, speaking with reporters for the first time since the injury. "I'd say I've overcome the initial shock and frustration and disappointment, and now it's what do I have to do to get back as quick as possible? But obviously as smart as possible."
Stamkos has no timetable for a return, but he didn't rule out the Sochi Olympics in February.
"That's something I've thought about," he said. "It's still on the backburner right now, but my focus is getting to a place where I can get healthy and getting back on the ice. Obviously, you want to get back and play for Tampa. If everything works out, which I'm hoping that it does, and get a chance to come back and play a couple games with Tampa and maybe get the opportunity to play in the Olympics, that would be great. That is a goal for me."
Stamkos was injured with 7:11 remaining in the second period. He was backchecking on a play when he got tied up with Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton. The two went into the net hard.
"At the time, I remember thinking to myself that he did give me a shove and that was kind of a dangerous area," Stamkos said. "But the more you look at it, the more you realize it kind of is a hockey play. There is physical contact in those areas. Was there a little shove? I believe there was. Was it intentional? No. No one is trying to go there and trying to severely hurt someone."
Stamkos said it's a helpless feeling to lose your footing around the net.
"I knew something was wrong, but didn't really know until I tried to stand up and skate back to the bench," he said. "I could feel the bone move. That's when I knew something was wrong."
Stamkos said he hasn't heard from Hamilton but did receive a text from Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara the day after the injury on behalf of the Bruins. Boston coach Claude Julien visited Stamkos at the hospital, which the center called "pretty classy."
Stamkos has 222 goals and 409 points in 390 NHL games.
"I've started rehabbing and feeling pretty good," he said.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press