Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Sochi 2014: No Stamkos? How does Team Canada adjust?


It comes as no surprise that after Steven Stamkos suffered his right tibia injury on Nov. 11 in Boston that the resulting down-time required for such a horrific injury to heal would affect more than just the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2013-14 season, it also leaves a pretty important void in Team Canada’s bid for Olympic gold in Sochi next year.

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who’s part of Canada’s management team had this to say.

Certainly from a Canada perspective, I don’t know of a time frame, but certainly probably going to be questionable if he can play in the Olympics.  Big loss for Tampa, big loss for our league.

Stamkos underwent surgery immediately the next morning  in Massachusetts on Nov. 12, and by the end of the day it was reported that the surgery was successful and that Stammer should make a full-recovery.

But a time frame on that recovery has yet to be stated.

Main component of Stamkos’ surgery was a metal rod inserted the length of the tibia.

— Damian Cristodero (@LightningTimes) November 12, 2013

Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman (and GM of Team Canada) had this to say to the media after the surgery was successfully completed.

In the brief period that I did speak with him, I guess not surprisingly if you know him, but particularly upbeat. He said ‘You know I’ll come back stronger than ever’. So all things considered he was in good spirits.

Questions inevitably turned towards the Olympics and what the outlook on Stammer playing might be.

In regards to the Olympics, we’ll wait and see. I don’t have a time frame on  how long he’s going to be out. I do know when they tell me it’s going to be a pretty broad range so I expect him, again knowing him and being young, he’ll be on the shorter end of the rehab process.

But what can Team Canada do to make up for the cache of skills Stamkos brings to the table if he doesn’t play?

At the time of the injury, Stamkos had 14 goals and 23 points through the first 17 games of the season for the Lightning.

Stamkos was 20 years old when Canada won gold in Vancouver but failed to make that team.  In three subsequent world championships, Stammer has produced 16 goals and 10 assists.

Team Canada has the option to leave him on the team as an injured reserve player, but if it is determined that Stamkos is unable to play by then, there are some options to replace him.

For starters, some of the best players in the NHL are already going to Russia.

Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, John  Tavares, and Eric Staal have all made the team.

But with Stamkos out, a few other stars will be pulled up and asked to fill a very considerable void.

Look for Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche and Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks to stand out.

Along with Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks), Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers), Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars), and possibly even Tampa Bay’s own:  captain Martin St. Louis.

There’s a group of guys that, assuming they’re healthy, we could all debate, but there’s generally a group of them that are on the team we don’t need to spend a lot of time on.  We give some of the veteran guys, regardless of the starts they have, good or bad, we give them the benefit of the doubt at least to stay in the discussion for the team.  You can’t ignore some of the younger players who have played extremely well.  You cannot ignore some of the younger players that, they’ve always been on the radar, we’ve always been watching them. Well, there’s starting to be a couple of them, probably, we can’t leave off the team. – Yzerman

Team Canada is stacked with potential talent to step up and take over Stamkos’ role in the coming Olympic games, no matter how impossible that may seem.

Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson had this to say on Nov. 11.

 You’re never replacing Steve Stamkos  We have a lot of great players. Steve Yzerman has a very difficult job putting this team together, but you don’t replace Steve Stamkos and we’ll just have to find another way to make sure the lineup’s strong.

Tags: Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning Team Canada