‘I didn’t think I’d be walking’: Stamkos meets media without crutches, boot

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On Monday, Steve Stamkos met with media for the first time since breaking his tibia on Nov. 11 and did it in style, walking to the podium without the use of crutches or a walking boot.

“I didn’t think I’d be walking,” Stamkos said, as per Lightning beat reporter Missy Zielinski. Stamkos also noted he’s been walking on the leg for the last two days without any support.

The 23-year-old sniper is just 13 days removed from having a metal rod inserted in his leg the length of his tibia, which will be a “permanent part of his body,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

But based on what he told the media Monday, Stamkos won’t let the injury derail his hopes of getting back into action in time to represent Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

When the injury first occurred, estimates for a timetable for return were at three months — which would nudge right up against the NHL break for Olympic participation.

According to Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock, Stamkos will remain on the team’s roster right up until the start of the tournament, at which time Babcock and GM Steve Yzerman will decide whether to include Stamkos in Russia, or call up an emergency replacement.

This is sort of like what Canada did in 2010 with Ryan Getzlaf and Jeff Carter. Getzlaf suffered an ankle injury just prior to the games; Carter, tabbed as Getzlaf’s fill-in, was so close to becoming a replacement player he was actually flown to Vancouver on GM Steve Yzerman’s orders.

Stamkos has represented Canada internationally at the junior and World Championship level, but never at the Olympics. He was named to Canada’s “stand-by” list for the ’10 games.

UPDATE: Stamkos was injured in Boston, and the Bruins have gone above and beyond in reaching out to him. B’s captain Zdeno Chara reached out to Stamkos via text and head coach Claude Julien paid a visit in hospital.

(Image courtesy Erik Erlendsson, Tampa Bay Tribune.)