Stamkos Unlikely to Return
Tampa Bay Lightning captain and star center Steven Stamkos has been dealing with a blood clot that has kept him out of action since April 4. He admitted on Thursday that there’s a very real possibility that he may not play at all this postseason.
He spoke to the media after taking part in the team’s morning skate, his first participation in any on-ice team activity since the injury.
“There’s been no set doctor’s date where it was, ‘We’re going to go today and a decision is going to be made.’ There was nothing ever in the works for that. So I can’t update anything. I’m still in kind of a holding pattern.”
Stamkos called his situation “unique” and said there’s not a lot of clinical information to help with risk assessment.
“[It’s] going to take a lot of information gathering and a lot of different opinions, and obviously, I don’t know when that decision is going to be made for sure to either rule [me] in or rule [me] out,” he said.
“[I’m] going to continue to work hard and hope the guys keep winning here.”
Typically, teams and players will lie to the media about injury status both to keep opponents on their toes about potential lineup changes and because there’s never a willingness to admit that someone might not be coming back. Stamkos admitting to the media that he very possibly might not come back is probably worse than it seems and it would be a massive surprise if he comes back.
The Lightning have been holding their own without him, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals where they are currently tied 2-2 with the Pittsburgh Penguins heading into Game 5. Though Stamkos obviously brings leadership and a dynamic offensive ability to the table, his stats haven’t been great come playoff time. He has just 15 goals and 35 points in 48 career playoff games, though he makes for a highly dangerous decoy on even his worst nights.
“We talked,” Stamkos said. “Different guys voiced some opinions. Obviously, they knew that effort wasn’t good enough. They don’t need any of us guys watching the game to [tell them] that. They know that. So definitely expect better for next game.”
Obviously, the deeper the Lightning advance, the better the chance we see Stamkos. Having said that, his willingness to admit the dire chances of his return likely means they’ve considered everything and he really isn’t coming back this spring. Which raises even more questions given his potential free agent status.
Is this the way he would want to end his run with the Lightning, the only franchise he’s ever known? Only time will tell.