The first thing Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos was asked by reporters during his first press conference since breaking his right tibia on Nov. 11 during a spirited Boston Bruins game at TD Garden was how he was feeling.
“Pretty good, ” Stamkos said. “Considering. I didn’t think I’d be walking on my own without a boot or crutch less than two weeks after surgery, but it’s pretty amazing the work that can be done, and I’ve already started rehabbing, and I feel pretty good.”
The 23-year old puck sniper walked to meet the press this morning without wearing a boot or the aid of crutches.
That’s right, you read that correctly the first time. Stammer walked to meet the press.
Two weeks have passed since the infamous injury, and only 13 days since a metal rod was inserted into his right leg, and Stamkos is walking around like nothing of particular interest has happened to him lately.
Just when you think he’ll cease to amaze you (impossible, I know), he walks to meet the media, when in all honesty, my image of the poor Stamkos was of someone bedridden and morose, in some shadowy hospital room, with the beeping and booping of machines to keep him stable.
Well, I guess for the rest of us that’s how we’d be dealing with a broken tibia. But not the inhuman hockey cyborg Stamkos. He’s already rehabbing and looking towards the Olympics, to say nothing of rejoining the Bolts for a hoped for 2013-14 playoff run.
In regards to what he remembers of the injury, Stamkos had this to say:
“I remember it pretty clearly. I’ve seen the replay a bunch of times too,” Stamkos said. “It was kind of a routine play, it was just a back-check and I knew I had to catch someone who was really fast, and I think it was (Dougie) Hamilton in front of the net. And there probably wasn’t any intentional contact, but there was a little contact there and I just lost my footing. It’s one of those areas that as soon as you go down it’s one of those “uh oh” moments, and knowing that you can’t really do anything to protect yourself.
“(I) knew something was wrong but didn’t really know until I tried to stand up and skate back to the bench, and I could actually feel the bone move,” Stamkos continued. “And that’s when I kind of knew something was (really) wrong.”
When asked if Dougie Hamilton had spoken to him after the incident, Stamkos mentioned a text he received from another Bruin player on the behalf of the entire Boston Bruins organization, as well as a surprise visitor.
“I got a text from Zdeno Chara the day after,” Stamkos said. “On the behalf of their whole team, and Claude Julien actually came and visited me in the hospital the next day, and I thought that was pretty classy.”
In regards to Hamilton:
“I think at the time, I remember thinking to myself that he did give me a shove,” Stamkos said. “And that was kind of a dangerous area. But the more you look at it the more you realize that it kind of was a hockey play. There is physical contact in those areas.
“Was there a little shove? I believe there was. Was it intentional? No. No one is trying to go out there and trying to severely hurt someone.”
As far as helping out the Tampa Bay Lightning to make the playoffs after a two season drought, Stamkos is firm in his goal to be apart of that effort.
“That’s the goal, and hopefully that’s reality when it’s all said and done. If the team plays as well as I know they can, and we’re still in the playoff mix,” Stamkos said. “I believe we still will be, and I’ll be back in time. But again, there is no time frame.”
Stammer mentioned how hard it was to watch his Lightning team struggle through their recent Pacific Division road trip where only one point out of a possible eight points was obtained.
“It’s been tough. I think it’s been tougher staying up that late to watch the games but, for me, I’ve never been in this situation in my life, and I think that’s been the hardest part. To sit there knowing you can’t do anything to help your team win,” Stamkos said. “Especially when they’re going through a tough time like we are now.
“It’s a tough west coast road trip,” Stamkos continued. “It doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup, no matter what team, that’s a tough road trip to be part of.
“To be honest, I think that stretch is going to help us. You never want to go through a stretch like that, where we don’t get a win on a road trip, but I think it puts things into perspective. It shows how tough it is to win in this league and hopefully we learn from that.”
Despite the severity of the topic on the table, of Stammer’s recovery and possible return to the ice, the conference wasn’t without some levity.
“We were kind of joking in the room (after the surgery) that maybe I should just get rods in all my bones,” Stamkos joked. “Then I don’t have to worry about breaking them again.”
Listen to the entire 20 minute press conference here.