Without the aid of crutches or even a walking boot, Steven Stamkos strolled into the media room at the Tampa Bay Times Forum looking like he was ready to play. Just two weeks after severely breaking his leg, which required surgery, even Stamkos is amazed with his own recovery.
"For me, I think it was just the mental thing of you just broke your leg and now you're walking on it," he said. "Just hopefully it doesn't break again, but the realization is that there is a rod in there now. It's even stronger than my other leg...Once you get over that, it gets a little easier."
Given the progress of his rehabilitation. How soon can we see Stamkos back on the ice?
"With regards to a time frame, I couldn't really give you anything," said Stamkos. "I'd like to think that being able to walk two weeks after, without the crutches or a walking boot, is a good sign. Hoping that whatever people are saying 'time frame' that hopefully it's ahead."
Lightning coach Jon Cooper admits seeing his star up and mobile is encouraging, but he's not letting himself make projections.
"I start thinking about that and all of a sudden the pity party starts," said Cooper. "It's like, oh my gosh. You can't. We know he's coming back and we'll embrace him when he is, but he's not coming back before Christmas, so we have to move on without him."
One thing that won't slow down his progress is having to have another surgery to remove the titanium rod, because that's now a permanent fixture.
"We were kind of joking in the room that maybe you should just get rods in all your bones and you don't have to worry about breaking them again," Stamkos said with a laugh. "It will stay in and the surgeon said a day after the surgery said it's going to be really sore, but you can put as much weight on it as you can bear on that foot. Immediately after surgery, so I thought that was pretty amazing."
The Lightning are ruling Stamkos out until Christmas, but wishing for an early return. The perfect present for number 91 is be back with his team in playoff contention.
"That's the goal and hopefully that's the reality when it's all said and done," continued Stamkos. "That the team plays as well as I know they can and we're still in the playoff mix. I believe we still will be and I'll be back in time.
"Again there is no time frame. For me, you never know, with the way you feel on a daily basis. Some days it's good, some days it's sore, but as of right now it feels pretty good."
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