The last week has been full of optimistic Steven Stamkos updates suggesting the Tampa Bay Lightning sniper was priming himself to return from injury and play this coming Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings, then hop on an airplane and make the trip to Sochi, Russia to take his rightful place on Team Canada. Not happening.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) February 5, 2014
Steven Stamkos was injured on November 11 at TD Garden against the Boston Bruins. While back-checking, the Bolts superstar lost his footing and went crashing into the defensive goal post in his own zone. He snapped his tibia on the play and has not returned since.
The Olympic miss must be a massive disappointment for Stamkos, who by all accounts, was extremely looking forward to representing Canada at the Winters next week. This is why they play the game; to be a part of events like the Stanley Cup playoffs and Winter Olympics. For Stamkos, the Olympic dream will need to be realized four years from now, if the NHL decides to send its players to South Korea in 2018. Many believe they won’t.
The big question that remains: who will replace Stamkos on Team Canada?
Public outcry ran rampant when Team Canada did not choose Stamkos’s teammate Martin St. Louis for the team when the roster was announced on January 7th. The same folk – and there are many of them – who conveyed outrage at the St. Louis snub, are already flooding Twitter in support of Marty as Stamkos’s replacement.
Steven Stamkos has scored more goals than any other NHL player over the last five seasons – you cannot replace his puck shooting potency. That being said, Canada is a nation deep in hockey talent, especially at the forward position. There are several great replacement options Team Canada’s GM Steve Yzerman can consider. The leading Steven Stamkos replacements are: Martin St. Louis, Claude Giroux, Eric Staal and James Neal, according to Adam Kimelman of NHL.com.
So who replaces Stamkos? St. Louis seems obvious. Giroux, E. Staal, Joe Thornton, James Neal also could get consideration
— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) February 5, 2014
Who will replace Stamkos is still unknown, as is when the replacement will be named. But with the Olympics beginning tomorrow and Team Canada’s first game eight days from now, expect an announcement sooner, rather than later.