It has long been assumed Steven Stamkos would have to play a game or two for the Lightning in order to prove he is ready to play for Canada in next month’s Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But the star center, out since Nov. 11 with a broken right tibia, said he doesn’t necessarily have to play for Tampa Bay before playing for Canada, which opens its Olympic tournament Feb. 13 against Norway. If he does not play for the Lightning, however, his Olympic participation would depend on a “discussion” with Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who also is executive director of Team Canada. “The objective is to play a game,” Stamkos said Tuesday in Toronto. “That’s something I would really love to do. But if that’s not the case, there’s going to be another discussion about whether I’m stil going to be on that (Olympic) team. We haven’t had that. It’s more like we’ll cross that bridge when we need to.” If such a discussion does happen, Stamkos said it will be "honest." "If we have to sit down a couple of days before we're supposed to leave for the Olympics, we can be honest with each other," Stamkos said. "If I say I'm at the level I need to be to compete in the Olympics, I think he's going to have to trust in me that I can go over there and play at that level. But I have to be honest with him. If I say I'm not ready then, obviously, I'm not going to go." Yzerman agreed with that characterization. “If he gets a chance to play in a game, if he’s cleared to play, great,” Yzerman said. “If not, then depending on what the doctor says and how he feels, is he good to go for the first game of the tournament? He’s the only one who really knows that once the doctors give him the green light to play.” Stamkos, 23, took another step in his rehab on Tuesday, by participating in the team’s morning skate. It was the first time he practiced in a regular jersey rather than a red no-contact jersey or yellow caution jersey.
Stamkos doesn't rule out playing in Olympics without first playing for Bolts
Tampa Bay Times | Jan 28