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Stamkos has surgery for lateral meniscus tear in his knee

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The captain is expected to miss four months.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Update: The Lightning announced Thursday night that Steven Stamkos underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a tear in the lateral meniscus of his right knee.

“Stamkos is expected to miss approximately four months,” the team said in a statement. “The procedure was performed by Dr. Robert LaPrade at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.”

The timetable means that he could return by March. The NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. March 1. So essentially, the Bolts don’t have to do anything to get a player at the deadline. Here’s to wishing his rehab a success.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is off to Vail, Colorado, where he will have arthroscopic knee surgery on a lateral meniscus tear on his right knee, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported Thursday morning.

The injury occurred in the first period of Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. Stamkos reportedly flew back to Tampa the following day, Wednesday, and in the evening, the Lightning announced he’d be out indefinitely. The recovery time for the surgery is not known, but he may be out 4-6 months.

According to McKenzie, Dr. Robert LaPrade of the Steadman Clinic will perform the surgery. LaPrade is an orthopedic surgeon known as one of the top knee surgeons in the country who “specializes in treating complex multi-ligament knee injuries,” according to his Facebook page. In fact, a post on his page from Monday talks about untreated meniscus tears, that leaving a tear untreated “has been reported to be a known risk factor for the development of arthritis over a 2-1/2 year time.”

LaPrade’s bio states the following on his background in treating athletes, specifically.

He has treated athletes at all levels, including Olympic, professional (football, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, baseball, lacrosse, etc.), semi-professional and intercollegiate athletes and has returned many athletes back to full participation both after treating either their new injuries or previous failed knee surgeries.

His policy is to see athletes and injured patients in a very timely fashion, usually the next day if possible. He sees patients from all over the world and his staff provides a full service environment coupled with a physical therapy program recognized as one of the world’s best.

Sadly and unfortunately, Stamkos’ injury timeframe feels too familiar. Three years ago, right around this time, Stamkos was playing some of his career-best hockey and broke his leg during a game against the Boston Bruins. Because it was an Olympic season and because he’d be a key cog for Team Canada, he ramped up his rehab in order to make it to Sochi by February. But his doctors didn’t give him the green light, and he stayed home.

Stamkos was back with the Lightning by the beginning of March, right when he was named captain after Martin St. Louis’s departure from a trade request.

Stamkos’ injuries didn’t end there.

Near the end of last season, in early April, Stamkos had surgery after it was discovered he had a blood clot. The timetable for a return then was 1-3 months. He was back on the ice at the end of May and suited up for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals as the Lightning were eliminated by the Penguins.

Stamkos recovered fully in the offseason, and played in the World Cup in September, playing minutes on the second line and on the first-unit power play as Team Canada went on to win the tournament.

He was off to a fantastic start this season with newly signed Nikita Kucherov as his winger, and (mostly) Vlad Namestnikov on his left side. During Tuesday’s game, he had assisted on Kucherov’s goal and scored one of his own before his injury. He just looked like a player who was playing without any stresses in the world, as his contract situation was what anyone could ever talk about last year.

So again, Stamkos’ season is cut short, and we’re left with “what could’ve been.” But the Lightning have to soldier on without their captain and put themselves in a position so that when he returns, it’s to help with the Stanley Cup.

Life without Stamkos officially start tonight, when the Lightning take on the Buffalo Sabres.