Steven Stamkos has missed the last 3 months of hockey, recovering from a broken tibia suffered on Veteran’s Day in Boston. He was looking at this weekend for his return, after rehabing well ahead of schedule. However, while seeking clearance from doctors to play again, it was revealed that the injury hasn’t completely healed, and that Stamkos would need to be pulled out of the Olympics.
Stamkos is widely known as one of, if not the, best pure scorer in the NHL. He was leading the NHL in goals at he time of his injury. But since then, he’s been sidelined, with the hopes of being able to play in Sochi. Now that that won’t happen, Canada had to look for a replacement.
Team Canada has plenty of offense to spread around, and it’s not to say that their high-powered attack will be hampered in any way by Stamkos’ absence. In fact, the player Canada chose to replace Stamkos is also a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Martin St. Louis, nearly just as dangerous with the puck, and one of the most elusive players in the game.
Stamkos will need more time to be re-evaluated, with the injury apparently not healing 100%. It makes sense that he was pulled from the games. St. Louis will be a more than serviceable replacement. Team Canada is still stacked to the brim with talented offensive players. The Canadians will still be the obvious favorites come puck drop in Sochi.
I will reserve my opinion on whether Team Canada will actually take gold in the games, but losing a guy with the ability to strike any time like Stamkos will always make a difference. Not to sneeze on St. Louis, who has stepped his game up dramatically since the injury to keep the Lightning in contention, but Stamkos is a once in a lifetime talent, with the ability to score at will from anywhere on the ice. Players like that are invaluable, and it may hamper Team Canada, just a little bit.
The gold medal is always far from a guarantee with any team, but having a guy like Stamkos can never hurt your chances. He will be missed by the Canadians, for sure.