VANCOUVER, British Columbia — As Tuesday’s announcement of Canada’s Olympic roster edges closer, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos nudges ever so closer to potentially being a part of that team.
Stamkos continues to skate and increase his movements on the ice as he recovers from a broken right tibia suffered Nov. 11. Though there remains uncertainty as to when he will be able to return to action, Stamkos maintains his goal of wanting to be a part of the Olympic experience next month in Sochi, Russia.
“I’m a pretty driven guy. I set goals for myself and I’m going to do everything possible to know that I’m going to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say that I did everything in my power to try and be on that team,’’ Stamkos said.
“So that is something that is a goal of mine. I want to come back and play hockey for the Tampa Bay Lightning before I go to the Olympics if that’s the case, but it’s nice to have that goal so you have something to shoot for to get through some of the tougher days.’’
It has been seven weeks since Stamkos underwent surgery to insert a titanium rod in his right leg to stabilize the tibia bone. The 23-year-old has been traveling with the team for the past three weeks as he has been able to skate.
What he is now able to do is skate with speed in straight lines with some light shooting of the puck, and Wednesday he was doing slalom drills going side-to-side.
While he said there is still some expected pain and swelling in the leg after he skates, he’s come a long way in the recovery process.
“You don’t want to put torque on that leg, especially the area in which the bone was broken,’’ Stamkos said. “In a straight line I feel that I can go pretty quick. Obviously not to where I would like to be in game shape but in a straight line I’ve felt great for a while.
“Now it’s about turning and mentally trusting it. For the most part I have seen progression each time I’ve been on the ice, so that’s mentally very pleasing for me.’’
When Stamkos was injured, it was considered a 3-6 month window for his recovery. Though everything seems to be trending on the shorter side of that window, the two-time Rocket Richard trophy winner knows he has to maintain the path he has been on and not start pushing things too fast.
“I like to think that ... I can be on the quicker side of that but it’s all up to the bone, really,’’ Stamkos said. “You get the X-ray done and everything looks great so far, but until that bone is healed you are not going to get clearance to play.
“So I’m still a ways away but you can see a light at the end of the tunnel. You just want to make sure that you are staying focused and not going too hard, especially at the 7-to-8 week mark where there is still a lot of healing to do.’’