After playing only a mere three minutes of total ice time in the bubble, Steven Stamkos’ season is over. He had a core surgery in March, worked extremely hard to get back in game three of the finals, but a big hit re-aggravated the injury. Jon Cooper, Lightning head coach, has stated the team made the decision.
“He did everything he could to get back, he did get back, and unfortunately he couldn’t go any further. I’m sure this will all be addressed after the series is over, but he gamed it out.”Jon Cooper on Steven Stamkos.
In those three minutes, though, was a meaningful goal.
For the Lightning, Cooper’s statement isn’t a huge deal on the surface. They’ve performed really well without him, carried by long-time teammate Victor Hedman, as well as the frontline of former Hart Trophy recipient Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat. They’ve gotten this far without him and hold a 3-2 series lead heading into tomorrow night.
The huge blow for the Bolts are the potential ramifications of the statement. “He gamed it out. This will all be addressed after the series is over.” It heavily hints at retirement for Stamkos, who has had a plethora of injuries derail his career in the last five years, including this core injury, blood clots, among other things. For Stamkos, he is the Lightning’s all-time leader in goals, third in points scored, a 6x time NHL All-Star and has been their team captain since the exit of mentor and hockey Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis from the franchise in 2014. He has done so much for the community, has been with the team since he was drafted first overall in 2008.
Steven Stamkos is going in the Hockey Hall of Fame if and when he does retire. For Stamkos, he signed through 2024 at $8.5M per year in money he’d be leaving on the table, but his longterm health is a major question mark. For the Bolts, this would be a huge save in cap space, something they’ll be struggling with this offseason. Should the Lightning win the Cup, Stamkos can cross that final achievement off of his to do list. Victor Hedman would likely become the team’s Captain.
Should Stamkos retire, PSE will keep you updated on the situation.