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Transcript: Stamkos on recovering from injury, “I don’t know if I’ll ever feel 100% again”

Transcribed for accessibility. Stamkos talks Bolts success, the All-Star Game, and recovering from multiple injuries

NHL: DEC 29 Flyers at Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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.