Steven Stamkos' rehab passed another milestone Thursday, when the Lightning's star center - out since Nov. 11 because of a broken right tibia - participated in the morning skate prior to the game with the Islanders at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "It was great," Stamkos said. "This is the first time I've been out there for a full skate. It was another step in the right direction. It was great mental-wise to be out there, too; great to be out there." "He's been pretty eager to be out there," coach Jon Cooper said. "I was just talking about his head is farther ahead than his leg is. I have no problem with that, though. I like his energy. It's just a sign every day he's getting closer. That's a good thing." Stamkos' goal is to be able to play for Canada at next month's Olympics in Sochi, Russia. If he is to do that, he has said, he needs to play in at least two games for the Lightning. To do that he would have to be ready for the Feb. 6 game at home against the Maple Leafs. "It felt great," Stamkos said of his leg. "It's probably the best it's felt." That said, "There's still pain, still hesitation in certain movements, as you could probably see; crossovers and turns, anything that puts torque on the leg. It's sill a sensitive area, but it's improve. Even compared to one and a half, two weeks ago it's improved. We're looking good right now." Stamkos participated in the full skate - almost. He did sit out the power play drill. But that seemed his only limitation as far as team drills. "He jumped into the two-on-one drill, it's like, ‘Wow, that's pretty good,' " Cooper said. And then he passed (the puck). I said, ‘I hope you're not coming back as an assist guy. We've got enough of those guys.' He's like, ‘Oh, no. I was just rusty." Stamkos, who had 14 goals in 17 games when he was injured, realizes he has a long way to go before he is reado play, and said he would not jeopardize his long-term health or put a chance to play in the Olympics before the Lightning.
Stamkos participates in Lightning's morning skate
Tampa Bay Times | Jan 16