We are going to start by saying that this is in no means an excuse or a reason why the Tampa Bay Lightning did not win the Stanley Cup Final. When the Colorado Avalanche sober up and have their exit interviews, it’s likely they will have a similar list. What it does show is the dedication that the players go through in their quest for the Cup. It also gives some clarity as to why players may not be performing to the standards that we randomly assign them.
In his exit interview with the media, general manager Julien BriseBois started by saying “The pain is deep.” Not only can that refer to the emotional pain of getting so close to their third Cup and not winning, but also the actual physical pain the players went through. Here is a list compliments of Mari Faiello of the Tampa Bay Times:
Brayden Point - significant tear in his quad from the Toronto series, should recover in a few weeks
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - played through a meniscus injury suffered prior to the playoffs
Anthony Cirelli - AC joint sprain in the New York series, dislocated shoulder in the Finals, may require surgery
Ryan McDonagh - “mangled finger” from the New York series
Nikita Kucherov - meniscus injury picked up in the Stanley Cup Final
Brandon Hagel - fractured foot in the Florida series
Nick Paul - AC joint sprain in ECF AND MCL sprain in SCF
Corey Perry - AC joint sprain from the ECF
It appears the Eastern Conference Final was quite damaging to the team in a physical sense. There are likely some more injuries that Mr. BriseBois did not mention (if Erik Cernak made it through with just bumps and bruises he’s made out of adamantium).
The positive news is that time and rest will heal most of these injuries. With opening night scheduled for October 11th training camp will likely start in mid-September giving the players just under two months to recover and start getting back in shape for next season. An added blow to losing in the Stanley Cup Final - another long season/short off-season without the payoff of raising the Cup.
As of now, Cirelli is the only one looking at major surgery. Bellemare may have some minor surgery to “clean things up”. As for Cirelli’s recovery and availability for next season, that will likely be determined in the next couple of days (off in the distance...the cry of “it’s Kucherov all over again!” rises from the other 31 fan bases).
We will update this post throughout the day if we hear of any other injuries as the players speak with the press.