USATSI_9206150_154158418_lowresIt’s looking less and less like Steven Stamkos will return in this year’s playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning centre didn’t rule himself all the way out of Friday’s contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he did say there was a “95 percent chance” he wouldn’t suit up. He practiced on Thursday, but admitted that nothing had changed with respect to his condition. Stamkos has been out since having surgery on April 4 to remove a blood clot.

“No [update], nothing has changed,” Stamkos said. “There’s been no more set doctor’s date where we were going to go and a decision was going to be made. There was nothing ever in the works for that. So can’t update anything; it’s still kind of that holding pattern. I am going to continue to work hard and hope the guys keep winning.”

Stamkos has been facing a decision to play while taking blood-thinners. He’s been taking two daily injections of the anticoagulant Lovenox since his surgery and there are some considerable side effects, plus there’s a warning to “[A]void activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury” while using the drug.

Stamkos has obviously maintained a patient approach throughout this process and that speaks to his focus on long-term health. While the sport often seems to encourage a “suck it up” mentality with regard to injuries, it’s important to exercise care when it comes to matters of health and wellbeing.

The prognosis after Stamkos’ surgery was one to three months of recovery time, which speaks to the range of potential symptoms and side effects in the process.

As for right now, he continues to work out and move toward a potential return date. But that doesn’t mean that a return to the ice is a sure thing in this post-season and the Lightning may eventually have to face reality and shut Stamkos down for the year.

“I will just continue to work hard on the ice,” said Stamkos. “Whether it’s after practice skating, or in the gym pushing the sled. It’s just whatever I’ve got to do to give myself the chance if that day comes (that I can play). If not, at least I can say that I did my part.”

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