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Should Stamkos sit out Sochi 2014?
If I were Steven Stamkos, I would skip the Olympics for the betterment of my career. Stamkos broke his tibia back on Nov.11th against the Bruins. According to CBC “He will be non-weight bearing for approximately 10 to 12 weeks. He can begin working on his muscles around his knee almost immediately.” Stamkos has to consider if rushing back to the highest level of competition will affect him in the long run.
Stamkos has always been considered an exceptional scorer. From his days in the GTHL playing for the Markham Waxers, to the Sarnia Sting, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the guy has a knack for scoring goals. 2 years ago he became the first player to score 60 goals in a season since Ovechkin did it in 2007-2008. He has the most goals scored since he entered the league in 2008.
He also has a knack for staying healthy. This is the first major injury of his career. Stamkos played in 344 consecutive games before breaking his tibia.
There’s no question Team Canada and the Lightning are missing the best goal scorer in the world. But the GM of both teams, Steve Yzerman, needs to think this one through. The Lightning are currently in first place. Tampa might suffer long term repercussions if they were to rush Stamkos back and re-aggravate or worsen his injury.
The Olympics employ a wider international ice size. Stamkos’ legs would be put under more pressure in a high-intensity tournament right after his rehab. Even if he were to return and go through the Olympics, one would wonder how he would perform down the stretch and in the playoffs for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
According to Yzerman, Stamkos said he will, “come back stronger than ever.” Stamkos is a motivated individual, on and off the ice. His work ethic is second-to none. His trainer, NHL fitness and nutritionist guru Gary Roberts said, “He’s got three or four years left of good quality years of training. He’s still got an opportunity to improve.”
It is high-risk high-reward move to rush back the most prominent goal scorer in the world. In a tournament like the Olympics, where goals are harder to come by, having a guy like Stamkos is crucial. Before the season, many prognosticators had Stamkos as a lock to be on the top-line with Sidney Crosby. Canada can feel the frustration.
If Stamkos were to take the Olympics off, he would have the opportunity to make the Canadian team at a prime age of 27. The thing is, the 2018 Olympics are being held in South Korea, and there are many questions as to whether the IOC and the NHL will strike an agreement allowing the players to attend. This might be Stamkos’ only chance to make Sochi, which adds another factor to Stamkos training harder to come back.
If I were Steve Yzerman, I would sit Stamkos. I would remind him that he has is making $5.5 million in the final year of his contract and that this rehab might be the most important financial decision he will ever make. I would remind him of his age and the potential to play in the 2018 and 2022 olympics barring the aforementioned agreement. I would also remind Stamkos about winning the Stanley Cup. Martin St.Louis is nearing the end of his career and the Lightning have 13 of 22 players locked up for at least next year.
The decision is tough, and multiple teams and persons are involved. But Stamkos should be council led to sit these Olympics out, for the betterment of his future.
Featured Image: www.boltsbythebay.com