It’s the first time Stamkos has participated in a morning skate since he was injured in November. Prior to Thursday morning’s big step forward, he’d been skating on his own or participating in a few scattered no-contact drills.
Stamkos has maintained that he’ll be ready to go by the time Team Canada requires his services in Sochi, but that remains to be seen at this point. Still, this news has to come as encouraging for Canadians hoping to see his offensive prowess contribute to a possible gold medal repeat at the Olympics.
“It’s not a full practice, but to be able to get out and not have to go off early or not have to wait until the end to go on, I wanted to go and try it,” Stamkos said. “It’s the best it’s felt.”
“He’s been pretty eager to get out there, but I think as we talk about, his head is further ahead than his leg is,” Tampa coach Jon Cooper said. “But I have no problem with that. I like his energy, his eagerness, but it’s just a sign that everyday he’s getting closer. So that is a good thing.”
Stamkos has X-rays done every two weeks and so far things appear to be on track. That puts him in a position to test his limitations each time he straps on the skates.
“There is still a lot of room for improvement, but each day it’s getting better,” Stamkos said. “To be able to step on the ice (Thursday) and do some of those drills…it was nice. It’s another step in the right direction, and hopefully it continues.”
Since sustaining the injury in November, Stamkos has insisted that his Lightning hockey club comes first. He’s still not willing to risk further injury (or setback) in order to compete in Sochi, but he’s still obviously of the belief that he’ll make it to the games in Russia. For now, it’s a case of the waiting game.
“The doctors will come in and be the arbitrators in that regard. They know what the bone needs to look like in order for me to get back to 100 percent, and until it’s 100 percent they are not going to clear me to play,” Stamkos said.