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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another Year, Another League Impacting Injury

For many of you, this is old news.  But I'm trying to keep my tradition going of being late to the party.

There were two Tampa Bay teams in action last night.  One in the NHL, one in the NFL.  Which one would you want to watch??  Those of you that chose the NHL (made the right choice) got to see probably the most devastating injury of this young 2013-14 season.

With about 7 minutes left to play in the second period, Steven Stamkos was skating up the ice toward his own net, chasing a dump in pass by Boston, when his skate got tied up with Dougie Hamilton.  As Stamkos went down, he collided with the right post of the goal, knocking it from its' moorings.  As you can see in the videos, he hits the post with his left leg and then his right leg came awkwardly across his body and bent backward as it too hit the post.  He was immediately in pain and Anders Lindback instantly signaled for trainers to get out on the ice.  As Stamkos got up to skate away, he fell back to the ice in pain.  He had to be taken from the ice on a stretcher.  Word from the Lightning is that he has a broken tibia, he is out indefinitely, and will undergo surgery today.

For a team in the Eastern Conference that has to contend with other big dogs to get a playoff spot, this isn't good news.  With five teams basically locked on top of the East, any edge will benefit the rest and this injury just could push a "bubble" team into a playoff spot (I know it's early, I'm just saying).  Going into last nights game, Stamkos was tied with Sidney Crosby for as the NHL leading scorer at 23 points and tied with Alex Steen in goals with 14.  He hasn't missed a single regular season game in his entire career up to this point and is now in jeopardy of missing much of the rest of the season, if not all of it.  Those are points the Lightning can't afford to be without for any amount of time.  The sheer fact that Steven was a part of 44% of all Tampa goals this year shows that his impact will be potentially devastating for the Lightning.

This also has world hockey implications as Stamkos was basically a lock for making Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.  The final team roster does not have to be announced until Dec. 31st however, adding an injured player to the roster and then having to have them removed is not as easy for international play.  Broken legs generally take four to six months to heal completely.  Surgically repaired legs can heal quicker but every person is different when it comes to down time and the pain threshold.  Regardless, I doubt Stamkos would be ready before the first game of Team Canada which is only about three months away.  Stamkos isn't replaceable either as the only other player with his type of ability is Sidney Crosby, who is already most certainly going to be on the team.  Plus, with Rick Nash yet to return from concussion, the Team Canada lineup is starting to look thin.

Overall though, NHL fans are going to lose out on seeing one of the best players in the world for awhile.  Regardless of whether you are a lightning fan or not, Stamkos has always been a class act and an amazing player to watch.

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