Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is quickly approaching the estimated time for his return to the ice, but there is absolutely nothing set in stone as of yet.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has found themselves embroiled in many storylines over the course of the 2016-17 season, but there has been one and one alone which has continually captivated fans all over the Bolts Nation. This aforementioned storyline would be that of the injury and recovery of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos.
The 2016-17 season came to a screeching halt for the 27-year-old Lightning captain on November 15, 2016. Stamkos had played in a mere 17 games coming into that fateful night. At this point, he was on pace to be one of the leading goal/point scorers in the NHL. Unfortunately, everything was about to change.
The Tampa Bay Lightning was taking on their Atlantic Division rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. Steven Stamkos was doing battle with Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist along the boards. Suddenly, Stamkos would take an awkward fall. While he would be able to skate off the ice under his volition, things were much worse than anyone was prepared to deal with.
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Just 24 hours later, it was announced Stamkos would be out indefinitely while the severity of his injury was ascertained and they could formulate a plan for his recovery. One day later, it was announced Steven Stamkos would be out 4-6 months after undergoing surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee.
Ultimately, this meant Steven Stamkos wouldn’t be able to make his return to the ice until at least mid-March. Here is where Lightning fans currently find themselves. In just one week, we will find ourselves at the notorious mid-March timeframe everyone has been looking forward to.
While things are definitely headed in the right direction, the captain may not be ready to make his return as soon as people would have initially hoped. Prior to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s intense battle against the New York Rangers at the Amalie Arena, Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper spoke to the media.
When asked directly about a potential return date for Steven Stamkos, Coach Cooper offered up some less than favorable news.
“Yeah, we’re not even in a spot to sit here and throw a date on it.” Coach Cooper said. “I’m still going in the 4-6 months. So, we’re almost in month four or six? Let’s wait a little bit longer on that.”
The Tampa Bay Lightning, and especially Head Coach Jon Cooper, has never been incredibly giving when it comes to the details of a player’s recovery, even if it is regarding the captain himself. At the same time, we will take it as a good sign Coach Cooper didn’t really have anything negative to say about his recovery.
The reality of the matter is there is a slight chance we may not see Steven Stamkos take the ice again this season. Of course, the possibility of seeing Stamkos on the ice again this season could be dependent on if and how far the Tampa Bay Lightning makes it in the postseason. If the Lightning can make it through the First Round, there is always a chance the captain could return to the ice.
The one thing every single Lightning fan knows for sure, the absolute last thing anyone here in the Bolts Nation wants is for Steven Stamkos to return to the ice before he is absolutely one hundred percent ready. Coming back too soon can prove to be incredibly detrimental to a player’s long-term health.
If it takes the remainder of the season for the captain to be truly ready to take the ice, so be it. Yes, both the team and the fans will miss having him on the ice, but if it’s what has to be done, it’s what has to be done in order to preserve his long-term health and the length and quality of his career.
That being said, we here at Bolts By The Bay certainly wish Steven Stamkos all the best as he continues his recovery. Steven Stamkos has always been known to make things happen. If there is anyone who can get back into playing shape in record time, it’s the captain himself.