Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was recently interviewed by Daren Millard of Sportsnet about the Bolts’ success, being named Captain of the Atlantic Division for the NHL All-Star Game, and returning from multiple injuries.
Transcribed for accessibility. For the sake of clarity and fluency, I have omitted extraneous uses of the phases, “and,” “um,” “so,” and “you know.”
Daren Millard: Joining us now, the newly-elected Captain of the Atlantic Division [in the 2018 NHL All-Star Game]. Nice wedding present! Even though it’s a few months late.
Steven Stamkos: [chuckles] Yeah, I’ll take it. It’s going to be pretty special, obviously with the event being held in Tampa. It was something that - I was hoping a couple of us on the team got off to good starts this year and had a chance to represent our team in our home city, so I’m really looking forward to it.
Millard: You bring up trying to get off to a good start. Coming off that major injury,, where were you health-wise at the start of this season?
Stamkos: Well, it’s tough. I don’t think - there’s a new normal now, that’s for sure, with some of the tough injuries I’ve had. I really didn’t know what to expect coming into this year. I put in a lot of hard work in the summer. That’s all you can fall back on is the preparation you put in.
I’ve been fortunate to get off to a great start with some of the teammates I’ve played with. Obviously the team has had a ton of success, so it’s just been fun honestly to be back out there playing with the guys and helping out.
Millard: So you’re 100%?
Stamkos: Well, that’s the thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel 100% again. But it’s just something that’s a constant - work and maintenance every day. The confidence mentally is something that continues to grow as the season progresses. It’s the best it’s felt since the surgery, that’s for sure.
Millard: Officially your fifth All-Star Game. What do you remember about your first one, walking into that room?
Stamkos: Yeah, the first one was actually - I was representing the Young Guns in Montreal, so it was pretty special just being in awe of all those All-Stars that were there. I know Vinny [Vincent Lecavalier] and Marty [Martin St. Louis] were representing Tampa and I got to go as the Young Gun.
It was an unbelievable experience. I got to meet a bunch of the players, really for the first time. It’s crazy - it’s been ten years since then, so time flies.
Millard: Just as cold then as it is now. Something about you and Montreal [Stamkos is currently in Montreal preparing for the Lightning’s game against the Canadiens]. Your hair’s gone through a bit of an evolution as well. [smiles] New look now.
Stamkos: [laughs] Yeah, I had the long hair back then. I guess as you mature, you grow up a little bit. Maybe I’ll have to bring it back - I had a lot of success with that long hair.
Millard: You participate in the skill competition. Not only that, you get to decide what skills people sign up for. What’s your go-to? What have you penciled yourself in for?
Stamkos: I think the ones that - the easier ones. The ones that I don’t have to skate. I’ve done the fastest skater ones before, and those are tough ‘cause you’re sitting there and then you have to go 100 miles an hour. Now that I can pick, maybe the hardest shot I’ve done fairly well in and maybe accuracy shooting. We’ll see what the other guys say.
Millard: Yeah, I wonder if you’re going to be a passer in accuracy shooting because you’re a set-up guy. [smiles]
Stamkos: [laughs] Yeah. Hey, as long as Kuch [Nikita Kucherov] is shooting, I’ll pass it.
Millard: Gasparilla - what can you tell me about it?
Stamkos: It’s gonna be crazy. It’s like the Mardi Gras of Tampa. It’s the pirate invasion. It’s gonna be a great time for everyone. I think when we knew we were going to have the All-Star Game and have it surrounded by Gasparilla - I don’t want to give away all the secrets, but it’s gonna be a really fun time and there’s gonna be a lot to do.
Millard: I hear Vinny Lecavalier’s got a big part of that [named Grand Marshal of Gasparilla]. You’re building a new house, good luck with that.
Stamkos: [laughs] No problem. Thanks for having me.