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Working for the weekend: Stamkos aims to return Saturday vs. Detroit

Feb 3, 2014, 4:11 PM EDT

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 10: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning (L) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with teammates Radko Gudas #7 (C) and Matt Carle #25 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on October 10, 2013 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Stamkos Watch now has a target date.

Steven Stamkos, out since November with a broken leg, is aiming to return to action on Saturday against Detroit, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The game will be played at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and is the Bolts’ last before the Olympic break, so the event will be met with equal parts excitement and nervousness — excitement, as it’ll be Stamkos’ first appearance in over 40 games…and nervousness, as he’ll be cutting it close with regards to a decision for participation in the Winter Games.

According to the Times, the Detroit game will essentially decide if Stamkos is fit to play for Team Canada in Sochi or not.

The 23-year-old has been skating for a few weeks and, on Monday, said he felt good during practice with no reported issues during 5-on-5 battle drills. Tampa Bay finishes up a four-game road swing tomorrow in Minnesota before going home for a mini two-game stand against the Leafs and Wings, so Stamkos will have more opportunities to practice before potentially drawing into the lineup on Saturday.

  1. convincedofthehex - Feb 3, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    As a Lightning fan I was initially opposed to Stamkos trying to hurry back for the Olympics. But the bottom line is that he has to come back at some point and knock the rust off. I would rather it be in Olympic hockey on a bigger rink without as much hitting, then when he comes back to Tampa he’s 100% and ready for the push for the Cup.

    • lowenni - Feb 3, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      I didn’t think he should play in the Olympics either to give himself time to recover, but what you said actually makes a lot of sense and I hadn’t thought of it that way. While the Olympics would definitely be more intense than coming back for a regular NHL game, the physicality level will surely be down. Interesting perspective, convincedofthehex, I wonder if Yzerman and Tampa Bay has considered that.

  2. joey4id - Feb 3, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    Smells like they are pushing a little too hard for Sochi.

  3. penvik - Feb 3, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    These comments are terrible. The Olympics is the best on best, it’s higher than the playoffs in importance by a mile. You absolutely DO NOT use the Olympics as a platform to get back into shape. Give me a break. This whole Stamkos situation has shown me a lot about yzerman and he’s not getting a good grade so far for his mismanagement. Stamkos should have been removed from Team Canada last week when he didn’t lace up the skates. What a slap in the face to the healthy players who are being left off in favor of Stamkos. What a mistake, I am embarrassed as a canadian to watch this. Go Russia!

    • stakex - Feb 3, 2014 at 5:41 PM

      Well…. the Olympics are more or less a vacation for these guys. Their job, the one that they make millions of dollars for, is playing in the NHL. If the Olympics can be used as a tune up for the NHL, so be it. That’s what happens when you get professionals playing in a non-professional event.

    • joey4id - Feb 3, 2014 at 6:11 PM

      I do agree. They should not play Russian roulette with Stamkos. But! There is more than meets the eye here. A vacation my a$$. For these players it is an honor to represent their country. These players love to compete and win. Now they have the opportunity to perform on the world stage, and become an Olympian Champion again for some, and for the first time for others. It is such an honor for these players to participate and represent their counties that some will miss a couple of NHL games to be the flag bearer.

      Yzerman is walking a fine line. Make no mistake about it. Stamkos wants to be on that team. It would be easy for Yzerman to immediately replace him without exhausting all options and time. Truth is, there is no benefit to replace Stamkos right away. Doing so would only crush Stamkos’ hopes, and create an uneasy situation between GM and player. Doctors should get the final word on whether or not he’ll play this weekend. If he does, and he’s cleared to continue playing then Yzerman will have to determine if he is a go or no go based on his performance vs the Wings.

  4. tampabayirish - Feb 3, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    No chance the Olympics are more important than the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

  5. muckleflugga - Feb 3, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    you wanna be in the show … c’mon baby let’s go

    i hope stamkos is well enough to play in the olympics … even at eighty percent he’d be a dangerous sniper when finding time to cut loose

    the stamkos decision is made by committee rather than by yzerman in isolation … neither stamkos nor st. louis have ground for complaint with yzerman in spite of misplaced concerns on the subject in these boards …

    while i’m sure stamkos like other players are proud to represent their countries, any sense of nationalism is likely removed from conscious thought during competition … they focus rather on the singular purpose of their role in competition rather than experiencing the star-spangled epiphanies media hacks hoping to inflate viewership numbers would have you believe … it’s all

    gold coloured hype for dyed in the wool sheep

    an athlete’s ability to simply make a team should define the extent of a nation’s pride … assigning superficial importance to olympic play is all well and good when medals are won … presumptive burden of a nation’s hopes and desires is unfair when imposed upon the preponderance of those who cannot win …

    when a nation’s hopes fall on an olympian’s failure, the effect is likely devastating on a deeply personal level … were it not for

    friendship in communal gatherings in olympic villages and in closing ceremonies… behaviour demonstrating the extent to which political boundaries fall away between nations and between sports … in counter to patriotic hype machinery selling ideology over athletic excellence … mike babcock and kevin martin have spoken eloquently on the subject many times while sublimating individual achievement

    gold

    and yes, olympics are a vacation and a haven for professional hockey players in every sense … with removal from drudge of nhl travel and practices and an overwhelming schedule, how could they not be … i believe stamkos wants the olympic experience as much as he wants the competition

    expect to see steven stamkos contribute in sochi even as we saw ryan getzlaf contribute in vancouver

    while going in, players like stamkos will dutifully respond to incessant canned and leading questions regarding their patriotic roles … it’s all good television … when summer or winter games conclude, participants tend to rave-on about the spirit of the olympic games and the joy of competition for excellence sake and friendships made …

    unless the canadian womens’ soccer team get screwed-over by an inordinately obtuse norwegian referee in pocket of network television promoting ratings-driven need in gold medal games or the united states womens’ hockey team using the canadian flag as carpet in their room then

    it’s balls to the wall

    right christine … right hayley

    pure gold

  6. cspsrbums - Feb 4, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    A lot of guys are rushing back from injuries for the Olympics. Few will re injure their selfs. So who will be the lucky and unlucky ones ? We will see.

  7. lightning69 - Feb 4, 2014 at 1:26 AM

    Best of luck to you Steven. Hope you stay healthy and have a great experience.

    I can’t be selfish and wish he didn’t go.

    Come back even stronger for a playoff run. Your team has battled hard to hold the line for you.

  8. patshal - Feb 4, 2014 at 6:23 AM

    With the way they played without him (being a couple points behind the Bruins) and the fact they have him back, they can win first place in the division in front of my team, the Bruins. He can win them a cup. That’s how important he is to this team. He will make a drastic change to this team in a positive way.

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