Views are that of the author, may not reflect those of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
The official announcement has been made: Steven Stamkos will not be playing for the Team Canada ice hockey team at Sochi. As much as Canadians braced themselves for this possible news, most were clinging to a glimmer of hope. His recovery has been seemingly speedy but this afternoon, Tampa Bay Lightning and Team Canada General Manager Steve Yzerman said, “Although the doctor was very pleased to this point with the healing process, he explained that the callus surrounding the facture site is not 100 percent consolidated, and Steven will not be cleared to play in a game until that happens.”
Stamkos broke his leg back on November 11th which required him to undergo surgery to place a titanium rod in his tibia. It had been suspected that he may not recover in time to compete on the world stage but men’s hockey management did not hesitate to include him on their initial roster.
Since the last Olympic games, no NHL player has scored more goals than the determined sharp shooter. Stamkos stated in a release, “Today is obviously very disappointing for me. 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.”
As much as the news is disappointing for Canadians, hockey fans can appreciate Stamkos making his long-term health the priority. Fans can also appreciate that it is not ideal to have a top-line player on the ice if they are not in top-line shape.
The change will mean that one of the team’s current members will likely be bumped up to the first line to play with Crosby & Kunitz. An open spot on the roster could mean big things for another player who may have been disappointed at not being called originally. The leading contenders for the role seem to be Stamkos’ teammate Martin St. Louis along with NHL superstar, Claude Giroux.
After the Team Canada roster announcement, Claude Giroux was one of the unnamed players open about his disappointment. In an interview he said, “In my mind I wanted to make the team. Like I said, it is disappointing but I am 26 years old and I have a lot years left.” Giroux is known for his positive influence on the dressing room. This attribute, along with his undeniable skill, could come in very handy for the ultra competitive Olympics.
Marty St. Louis is undoubtedly being examined closely to fill in the vacant spot. Since the 2010 Olympics, no player has more points than this small but talented right wing. After the original roster announcement, the 38 year-old has been one of the most talked about absentees. His stats really speak for themselves and perhaps in round two for Yzerman & Co. will be too good to be overlooked.
These two are not the only players to be attracting that “Maybe you” attention from Canadian hockey fans and sports panels. Other players up for examination include another Pittsburgh Penguins member in James Neal, Olympic veteran Eric Staal, and perhaps even a surprising underdog like the speedy Taylor Hall.
With only 8 days until puck drop, who would you like to see replacing Stamkos out on the big ice?