I’ve heard of sophomore slumps, but what happens when a disappointing rookie year gives way to an outstanding second season? Is it a sophomore bump?
Regardless, Steven Stamkos is the poster child for such a season. He posted a new Tampa Bay Lightning record when he scored at least one point in 18 straight games. His 42 goals ranks third in the NHL, only behind Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
The honors don’t stop there, though, because Stamkos recently became an alternate captain for the Lightning (even if it’s only temporary). Brian Landman of the St. Petersburg Times has more on the decision.
… Stamkos has proven not to be your usual youngster. He entered the game against the Capitals tied with St. Louis for the team lead in scoring (82 points). He set a franchise a record for consecutive games with a point (18) this month.
“It’s a little unusual, but I do think that with his overall growth and leadership, he deserves it,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “He’s done the right things, especially the last two months, to earn it -playing hurt; doing all the right things that leaders do.”
Tampa Bay’s choice continues a recent trend of young players taking symbolic leadership roles. Sidney Crosby became the youngest captain to hoist the Stanley Cup last summer. Jonathan Toews and Alex Ovechkin are more than just figureheads on their teams.
Really, though, this isn’t exactly rocket science. With the obstruction era in the dust, younger players are once again able to show their elite talents. We can talk all we want about “character” but ultimately a team’s best talent usually ends up “leading” them.
So the real story (to me at least) is that the learning curve for young forwards keeps getting smaller. That has to be good news for the Islanders, Oilers and other lottery teams. Toronto? Not so much.