Stamkos Watch is over… for now.
On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced that Stamkos would not return to action on Saturday — as he’d hoped — and has been ruled out of representing Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“After reviewing the CT scan this afternoon, Dr. Gutentag made it clear to me and to Steven that the tibia is not completely healed and therefore he should not be participating in game action at any time in the near future,” Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said in an announcement. “Although the doctor was very pleased to this point with the healing process, he explained that the callus surrounding the fracture site is not 100 percent consolidated, and Steven will not be cleared to play in a game until that happens.
“It was a pretty clear cut decision, no gray areas at all.”
Stamkos suffered the break in mid-November against Boston, and has missed the last 39 games. He has been skating for weeks and, yesterday, said the leg felt the best it had since the initial injury.
On Monday, Stamkos said he was aiming to play in Saturday’s game versus Detroit, giving him one game of NHL prep before heading over to Sochi.
“Today is obviously very disappointing for me,” Stamkos said. “I honestly believe that we did everything possible in order to have my injured leg ready in time for the Olympics, but I realize you can’t force healing. I know, in the best interest of my long term health, I cannot represent Canada in Sochi, as much as I would like to.
“I would like to thank the training staff for their dedication and hard work and I look forward to returning to the Lightning once cleared by the medical team.”
With this news, attention will turn to who’ll replace Stamkos on Team Canada. It’s likely one of Martin St. Louis, Claude Giroux, Eric Staal, James Neal, Taylor Hall, Mike Richards or Joe Thornton will be selected.