TAMPA, Fla. - Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos is walking without crutches or a boot two weeks after breaking his right leg and said Monday he fully expects to play again this season.
The high-scoring centre was injured Nov. 11 against Boston. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher after crashing into the post. He had surgery the next day in Boston to stabilize a fractured shin bone and is now walking with a limp.
"To be able to do what I'm doing now and almost comeback to a normal life, being able to just move around on your own, I'm definitely happy with that," said Stamkos, speaking with reporters for the first time since the injury. "I'd say I've overcome the initial shock and frustration and disappointment, and now it's what do I have to do to get back as quick as possible. But obviously as smart as possible."
Stamkos has no timetable for a return, but didn't rule out the Sochi Olympics in February.
"That's something I've thought about," he said. "It's still on the backburner right now, but my focus is getting to a place where I can get healthy and getting back on the ice. Obviously, you want to get back and play for Tampa. If everything works out, which I'm hoping that it does, and get a chance to come back and play a couple games with Tampa and maybe get the opportunity to play in the Olympics, that would be great. That is a goal for me."
Stamkos was hurt with 7:11 remaining in the second period. He was backchecking on a play when he got tied up with Bruins defenceman Dougie Hamilton. The pair went into the net hard.
"At the time, I remember thinking to myself that he did give me a shove and that was kind of a dangerous area," Stamkos said. "But, the more you look at it, the more you realize it kind of is a hockey play. There is physical contact in those areas. Was there a little shove? I believe there was. Was it intentional? No. No one is trying to go there and trying to severely hurt someone."
Stamkos said it's a helpless feeling to lose your footing around the post.
"I knew something was wrong, but didn't really know until I tried to stand up and skate back to the bench," he said. "I could feel the bone move. That's when I knew something was wrong."
Stamkos said he hasn't heard from Hamilton, but did receive a text from Boston defenceman Zdeno Chara the day after the injury on behalf of the Bruins. Boston coach Claude Julien visited Stamkos at the hospital, which the centre called "pretty classy."
Stamkos has 222 goals and 409 points in 390 NHL games.
"I've started rehabbing and feeling pretty good," he said.