As was the case the last time an injury update was posted, no news is good news with Steven Stamkos. Last Thursday, General Manager Steve Yzerman appeared on the team’s “Morning Skate” show and provided an update on Stamkos (the injury talk begins around the 8:35 mark). The update - there is no update.
Mr. Yzerman did manage to us his favorite adjective - “fine” - in an update according to NHL.com’s Bryan Burns.
Yzerman on Stamkos' rehab: "Every indication is that healing is right on-course and it's going to heal and he's going to be fine." #Bolts— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) February 2, 2017
Mr. Yzerman’s actual response in the interview with Rick Peckham was that he didn’t have an exact return date, but the surgeon who did the operation checked Stamkos out and was “pleased with how he looks and where he’s at.” Everything looks good for a long term recovery from the surgery itself, which is important for a player that is under contract for another seven seasons after this lost year.
As he approaches the three month mark since the injury, Stamkos should be getting close to getting back on the ice. It will be interesting to see how long it takes him to get back up to game speed. Unlike his last two major injuries, he has been off the ice for a significant time.
Even when he broke his leg in the 2013-14 season, he was skating with the team two months after the injury. With the blood clot he was skating with the team three weeks after he had surgery. Being able to come back so soon allowed him to stay in relative game shape and helped him avoid any kind of rehabilitation assignment.
With this injury, even if he’s back on the ice within the next month it’s going to take him another couple of weeks to get back up to NHL speed. A quick assignment down to Syracuse wouldn’t be out of the question.
Another difference between this time and his previous injuries is his motivation to rush back. When he broke his leg, there was the possibility of playing in his first Olympics. With the blood clots, he was coming back for what could have been his final run at a Stanley Cup with the Lightning. What’s he coming back for this year? At best, an eighth-seed and a first round exit from the playoffs?
That’s not to say he’s slacking in his rehabilitation. From what we’ve seen from him over the last 8 years, Stamkos doesn’t seem capable of doing anything at less than 100%. Still, even subconsciously it would be hard to be as motivated as he had been in the past to come back, especially if he’s looking to make sure he is healthy for the rest of his career.
Another thing we know about Stamkos is that he weighs all factors when making important decisions. He is very deliberate and calculating when it comes to his career. If trying to come back too soon from his ligament surgery has an impact on his future, it might not be worth it. If it’s better in the long term for him to shut it down this season and have a full off-season to get ready for next year, that might be the wiser choice. Whatever he does decide, it’s safe to say he’s consulted with all of the experts before making the decision.
The behind-the-scenes-rehab should, for the most part, be coming to a close. There should be reports of Stamkos on the ice popping up in Twitter feeds and newspaper articles soon. Hopefully, everything continues to progress as it has so far in his comeback. And hopefully the team is in a place to make it all worthwhile when he is ready to play.