Team Canada's hopes for gold in Sochi could be derailed by a metal post.
The post in question is the one that Steven Stamkos broke his leg on on Monday afternoon. If you haven't seen the incident yet, consider yourself lucky. It was hard to watch as the Tampa Bay Lightning superstar center lost his balance while skating hard toward his own net on a backcheck and slammed his right leg into the goal post, snapping his tibia.
Stamkos tried to get up, but couldn't put weight on his leg. He was eventually taken off the ice on a stretcher, and had surgery the next day. There's no timetable as of now for his return to the NHL, and his chances of playing in the Olympics aren't very good. Some timetables out there are three to six months. The Olympics are now just under three months away.
Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman, who is also the executive director of Team Canada, is hopeful that because of Stamkos' age, conditioning and work ethic he will be on the lower side of the 3-6 time frame. But when you have a metal rod inserted along the entire length of your tibia, there's really no way to tell at this point how long the recovery will take.
Yzerman may be hopeful of the faster comeback because of Stamkos' aforementioned attributes, but they really could help. Stamkos comes from the Gary Roberts School of Fitness. If you haven't heard about the former NHLer's training program, just watch this video of Stamkos working out for a quick introduction:
Roberts was one of the most intense players the NHL ever saw. Seriously, his stare alone could melt vulcanized rubber in under 1.6 seconds. But that intensity he had on the ice also translated into incredible off-ice workouts. His legendary physique meant he could play in the NHL until the age of 42, despite having numerous serious injuries in his career, including the degeneration of the nerves in his neck that required two surgeries; injuries to both shoulders that required surgery on each; and a broken fibula.
Roberts has passed along his workout and nutrition knowledge to a new generation of players, including Stamkos, who came into the league as a scrawny 18-year-old rookie and now looks like an Adonis on ice. Roberts has pushed Stamkos to get into the condition he's in, and that work ethic should only help him in his recovery from this brutal injury.
Will he play in the Olympics? You'd have to believe it's a long shot. But if anyone could make a rapid comeback like that, it would be Stamkos. With a little help from Gary Roberts, of course.
Team USA Goalie Trouble
Just a day after Team Canada saw one of its prized players go down with a major injury, Team USA got an injury scare of its own. Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, who many see as being the starting goaltender for the United States in Sochi, left Tuesday's game in Buffalo with what turned out to be a severe groin strain. That should keep him out of action for anywhere from three to six weeks. Groin strains are quite problematic for goalies, so his situation will have to be watched closely as we get closer to Sochi.
Oh, and by the way, the goalie at the other end of the ice who watched Quick leave the game? That would be Buffalo's Ryan Miller, who was Team USA's starter in Vancouver and who wants to be the starter again in Sochi.
Miller is making quite the case. On Tuesday he stopped 43 of 45 shots and blanked the Kings in the shootout to pick up the win and be named the game's first star. For the year he's sporting a 3.28 GAA and .916 save percentage for a very, very bad Buffalo squad.
Let the speculation begin...