The eye of every Canadian hockey fan and every Tampa Bay Lightning fan is on the status of Steven Stamkos. When you score 60 goals in the NHL, people tend to obsess over your recovery from an injury. And it increases four-fold in an Olympic year.The eye of every Canadian hockey fan and every Tampa Bay Lightning fan is on the status of Steven Stamkos. When you score 60 goals in the NHL, people tend to obsess over your recovery from an injury. And it increases four-fold in an Olympic year. Stamkos, of course, hasn't played a game since Nov. 11 when he broke his leg crashing into the net. He still has 14 goals on the season, which is more than Daniel Sedin, Patrice Bergeron, Jason Spezza, Alex Semin and a slew of other world-class players. He's still on Team Canada's roster because the feeling is he'll be ready for Sochi - but Sochi is creeping up fast. Given his stature, each step of Stamkos' recovery has been news celebrated in Canada. When he returned to the ice for a very light skate for the first time, the video went viral. The anticipation was turned up another notch when he took part in light contact drills for the first time this past weekend. He's been coming back fast from a vicious injury, all the news has been happy and positive so far and an Olympic appearance has seemed nearly a sure thing. But just as the Lightning prepare for a trip to the hockey media capital of Canada in Toronto for a Tuesday game, there was a little hitch in the Stamkos news. Stamkos skated briefly Monday morning, but decided to "err on the side of caution" and left early. In a morning when Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk both did the same in Toronto, the week got off to a sour start for Blue and White Canadian hockey fans. The Lightning sniper shot fear into Canada when he said his reason for leaving was that his leg "didn't feel the best." With the Sochi Games opening a week from this Friday and the hockey tournament starting five days after that, time is running short. Now is not the time for a setback. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was there to be optimistic and cool our jets. He's not calling it a setback.
Cooper on Stamkos: "Can't sit here and say that's a setback. A setback would be he's not coming on the trip...but he's coming on the trip." — Missy Zielinski (@Missy_Zielinski) January 27, 2014So all eyes will next be on the Air Canada Centre ice surface tomorrow morning, to see if Stamkos returns to practice. Clock's ticking. Follow Rory on Twitter