Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos took to the ice with teammates Tuesday for the first time since having surgery for a blood clot near his collarbone on April 4.
He practiced with Brian Boyle and Mike Blunden on the team’s fourth line, but wore a red no-contact jersey. It’s a great sign. Defenseman Victor Hedman called it “uplifting” to have Stamkos on the ice, but it doesn’t mean that Stamkos is ahead of schedule for a return.
Following practice he revealed that he’s still on blood thinners and will need to come off of them before he’s able to return. The Lightning will start their second round series against the New York Islanders this week.
“Any contact, any bruising, anything like that can lead to complications so we have to be careful,” Stamkos said. “It’s just the waiting game right now. The million dollar question is how long you have to be on those [blood thinners] before they feel that you’re ready and safe, and I don’t know.”
His initial timeline had him out of the lineup for as much as three months, but a minimum of one month. May 4 would be the one month mark, making it questionable at best that he’s able to return in the second round for the Bolts.
Tampa handled Detroit in just five games during the opening round without their leading goal scorer, who potted 36 during the regular season. Though players like Nikitia Kucherov and Tyler Johnson have stepped up, but it would be huge for them to get Stamkos back as their opponents improve and the playoffs wear on.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.