Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is particularly looking forward to the team’s training camp after spending several months on the sidelines due to a knee injury.
Stamkos played only 17 games last season before suffering a meniscus tear in his right in November. He had to undergo surgery soon after and his season was over.
He wanted to come back at the end of the campaign to help his team-mates reach the playoffs, but that was not possible. Now he is ready to play, although he is not absolutely certain that he is 100% restored.
“After going through everything I’ve experienced in the last four or five years, it’s hard to know what 100% is,” he told the Tampa Bay Times.
“But I have never felt so well since surgery,” he continued. “Much better than at the end of the season. It gets better every day. I had not been looking forward to a training camp for a long time. ”
He now realizes that it is better not to return to the game in the spring.
“It was day and night compared to how physically and mentally I was going towards the end of the last season,” said the 27-year-old. Stamkos tried to make himself believe he could play, given his competitive nature, but by his own admission he was not as ready as he thought at the time.
Disappointed to see Drouin leave
Stamkos was sorry to see Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman swap his young teammate Jonathan Drouin to the Montreal Canadiens last June. He understood, however, why this exchange was necessary for the organization.
“It’s always hard to see a player leave skills like his, because it’s hard to find,” he said.
“We were able to get a defender that would generally be impossible to have, unless we involve a player like Drouin in the deal,” said Stamkos, who realizes that the contract the Quebecer signed in Montreal would have been difficult to to include in the payroll of the “Bolts”.
He was encouraged by the arrival of Chris Kunitz and Dan Girardi with the team, noting that the club is suddenly much more experienced.
For him, it is out of question to miss the season for a second year in a row.”It can not happen again, especially with the players we have and those we have added,” he said. We understand the challenge and it is to have a much better start to the season than we have seen in the past. And we must not look behind. “