Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 Greatest Moments In Franchise History

31 of 51

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

21. Steven Stamkos Returns From Injury As New Captain

Date: March 6, 2014

The Tampa Bay Lightning has definitely seen their fair share of injuries over the course of their 23 year history. In fact, the limits of the Lightning’s capabilities are being tested this season as there are currently six players on the injured list with a variety of ailments.

Unfortunately, no amount of experience could possibly prepare the Tampa Bay Lightning for what was about to happen to them. The Tampa Bay Lightning were paying a visit to the TD Garden in Boston to go one-on-one with captain Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins. In the second period, both teams would remain scoreless.

There was just over seven minutes and 11 seconds left in the second period when one of the worst things you could possibly imagine would come to pass. Lightning center Steven Stamkos was racing into the defensive zone in the hopes of putting the breaks on the Bruins’ offense.

Unfortunately, as Stamkos would come charging into the zone, his skate edge would come out from under him and he would go crashing into the net, causing it to fly across the ice as it was dislodged. Just watching the video reminds us of the feeling we had when we witness Stamkos slam into the goal post for the first time. We just knew something was terribly wrong.

Stamkos would make an effort to get back to his feet and make it off the ice, but as soon as he put weight on the leg he knew it was just not going to happen. Stamkos fell to the ice once again and began pounding on the ice in what one could only imagine was a terrible amount of pain.

Tampa Bay Lightning Head Athletic Trainer Tom Mulligan would rush out to attend to Stamkos. Unfortunately, the young Lightning center would need to be assisted off the ice on a stretcher. A little later in the day, the Tampa Bay Lightning would confirm the worst. Lightning center Steven Stamkos had broken his tibia and would be out indefinitely.

It turns out, Stamkos would require surgery to repair his broken tibia and the Tampa Bay Lightning would offer up no timetable for Stamkos’ return to the ice. While a broken leg may not be the worst thing in the world that could happen to a person, something like this could be career ending for a hockey player who depends on their speed to keep them on top.

In addition to the obvious implications this would have on the Tampa Bay Lightning, this would also potentially destroy any chance Steven Stamkos would have in representing his native Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Stamkos would attempt an aggressive rehab, and while Stamkos may not have been able to compete in the Olympics, there was something rather spectacular that came out of this.

Just 14 days after laying out on the ice at the TD Garden in a level of pain we would never want to experience, Steven Stamkos actually walked into his press conference. That’s right…walked. What’s more, he walked into the press conference without the assistance of a boot or any sort of crutches.

Unfortunately, while Stamkos’ aggressive rehab would get him up and walking within two weeks, it would not get him ready in time to play in the Olympics, dashing his Olympic dreams for another four years. Instead, his teammate Martin St. Louis would head to Sochi as a member of Team Canada.

While Team Canada would once again get the job done in Sochi and bring home the Gold Medal, things were not so bright on the home front for then-Lightning captain Martin St. Louis. Without reopening some finally-healed wounds, this story ended with Martin St. Louis being traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for Ryan Callahan and a couple of draft picks. The trade left the Lightning with a hole that needed filling, a hole only a captain could fill.

On March 6, 2014, the waiting was over. The Tampa Bay Lightning had chosen a new captain, and his name was Steven Stamkos. Stamkos would become the 10th captain in Tampa Bay Lightning history.

On that night, Stamkos would take the ice for the very first time since breaking his tibia at the TD Garden. A new era in Tampa Bay Lightning history began that night, and it all started with Steven Stamkos’ return.

Next: Ben Bishop Joins An Elite Group