As you've all probably heard by now, Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos has suffered a major injury. Specifically, he has a broken right tibia and is out indefinitely, according to the the team's Twitter account. Reportedly (and as yet unconfirmed by the team), he needs surgery and could be out 3-6 months.
While this is a blow to the Lightning and to their future this season, it's not a complete disaster. Stars being out of lineups can sometimes bring a team closer together. Just because Stamkos may not play for a while doesn't mean that Tampa Bay will sink in the standings like a lead ball weighting down a fishing line.
And let's not discount head coach Jon Cooper, either. When he was coaching the AHL's Norfolk Admirals in the 2011-2012 season, they won 28 regular season games in a row. And the Calder Cup, too.
What were the Lightning doing during the 2011-2012 season? They were fighting injuries for a lot of that season. At one point, Tampa Bay had 10 AHL players in their lineup, which happened during the middle of that winning streak in Norfolk. Including the Admirals' starting goalie at the time.
The lesson here is, do not underestimate the coaching of Jon Cooper.
Stamkos will be sorely missed, don't get me wrong, but others will pick up the slack. Just like when Sidney Crosby was out with his concussion and Evgeni Malkin stepped up to help the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay has some capable players who are able to help shoulder what was Stamkos's load. It may be a group effort in the end, but that's what being a team is all about.
Sure, it looks bleak. Yes, they go into Montreal tomorrow undermanned. And maybe - maybe - they'll have a callup by then. Even still, it's not all death, destruction, and despair. The season is not a total loss due to the absence of one player, even if that player is Steven Stamkos.
As for Team Canada and the 2014 Winter Olympics, Stamkos will be a big hole to fill. Canadians are already wringing their hands over the loss of such a bright young star. But somehow, I think they'll pull through. Stamkos will likely be agonizing over not playing for his national team a lot more than Canadians will be once the Olympic arrive. They could field three Olympic teams and take home at least two medals.
Oh, and you're fantasy team? Seriously? Maybe you need to regain some perspective here. A guy just broke his leg and will be laid up and doing recovery for it for months. Believe me, I think you'll live.