Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos stated Tuesday afternoon that he will determine his participation in the 2014 Sochi Olympics based upon how he feels and not how many NHL games he plays before the tournament begins.
Stamkos said he felt better today. Said still hopes to play before the break. But also said something interesting (next tweet)...— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 28, 2014
Stamkos said it could also be a possibility perhaps to play in Sochi even if he doesn't play an NHL game first... depends how he feels...— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 28, 2014
Stamkos has been out of action since breaking his right tibia in November, and the understanding has been that he will need to play in a few NHL games before determining whether he will play in Sochi. Considering that Stamko's primary obligation is to the Tampa Bay Lightning and the five-year, $37.5 million commitment the team made to him, the Lightning would prefer to see Stamkos able to return to NHL action. Any further damage potentially incurred during Olympic activity could be catastrophic.
Of course, no one can deny that the opportunity to represent Canada at the Olympics is unique. Stamko's biggest motivation for a speedy recovery is to play Canada. The primary point of discussion at the time of the injury was whether it would impact his ability to go to Russia. It seems that Stamkos is going to do everything he can to find a way to capitalize on his opportunity.
Stamkos skated for approximately 20 minutes on Tuesday and took line rushes with teammates.