Lightning's Steven Stamkos not cleared to play, will miss Olympics
FEB 05, 2014 5:14p ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Steven Stamkos has not been cleared to play and will miss the Sochi Olympics.
On Wednesday afternoon, Steve Yzerman, the Tampa Bay Lightning's vice president and general manager, made the announcement after the star center underwent a CT scan to determine the progress of healing from a fractured right tibia sustained Nov. 11 in Boston. Stamkos, 23, met with Ira Guttentag, Tampa Bay's medical director, who was unable to clear the two-time Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner for competition.
Stamkos, named to Team Canada in January, will continue his rehab with Tampa Bay's training staff and be re-evaluated in two to three weeks.
"After reviewing the CT scan this afternoon, Dr. Guttentag made it clear to me and to Steven that the tibia is not completely healed and therefore he should not be participating in game action at any time in the near future," Yzerman said in a release. "Although the doctor was very pleased to this point with the healing process, he explained that the callus surrounding the fracture site is not 100 percent consolidated, and Steven will not be cleared to play in a game until that happens. It was a pretty clear-cut decision, no gray areas at all."
Until the announcement, Stamkos appeared to be on track to return to the ice soon. On Monday, he said he planned to play Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Times Forum -- the last game before the Olympic break -- to determine his participation for Sochi. He had practiced with the Lightning in recent weeks, and in that time, he had taken contact from teammates as he prepared for a return.
Shortly after Stamkos' surgery on Nov. 12, which resulted in a metal rod being inserted in the affected leg, he had said the Olympics stood as a goal for him. In recent weeks, he had appeared optimistic about his progress, and a trip to Russia looked like a strong possibility for him.
"Today is obviously very disappointing for me," Stamkos said in a release. "I honestly believe that we did everything possible in order to have my injured leg ready in time for the Olympics, but I realize you can't force healing. I know, in the best interest of my long-term health, I cannot represent Canada in Sochi, as much as I would like to. I would like to thank the training staff for their dedication and hard work and I look forward to returning to the Lightning once cleared by the medical team."
Stamkos has missed 39 regular-season games. He had 23 points and 14 goals before his injury.