Steven Stamkos is out indefinitely with a broken right tibia. (AP)
It should come as no surprise that when Steven Stamkos flew into the net and pounded his fist in both clear pain and disappointment in the second period of Monday’s Bruins-Lightning game, the TD Garden crowd fell silent. When he was placed onto a stretcher and wheeled off the ice, the sold-out crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Boston fans aren’t always the most gracious, but the unanimous show of support for the Lightning star said that they both respect him — remember, this is the same ice on which Stamkos took a Johnny Boychuk slapshot to the face, got some stitches, slapped a cage on his helmet and went back out there in Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals — and don’t want to see the league lose one of its best young players.
The Bruins agreed, and though the top team in the conference losing the league’s leader in goals and points might bode well for the Bruins, it isn’t lost on them that a Stamkos-less NHL isn’t as good an NHL.
“I don’t care whether he’s on another team or not, a player like that is what people pay to come and watch,” Claude Julien said. “… This game is built on guys like that that have tremendous skills, that are good leaders and everything else. It’s unfortunate that those kind of injuries happen to those players. You hope that his injury isn’t too serious and if anything he’s going to come back quick.”
Unfortunately, the injury is serious and he isn’t going to come back quick. It’s a broken right tibia for Stamkos and he’s out indefinitely. He suffered the injury crashing into the net while battling for position with Dougie Hamilton, with his left leg hitting the post first and then the bottom of his right leg following in a scene of which you probably won’t want to catch too many replays.
Gregory Campbell knows a thing or two about tough injuries like this, as he had one of the most famous broken legs in sports history when he broke his blocking an Evgeni Malkin slapshot in Game 3 of last season’s Eastern Conference finals and finished his shift.
“I don’t like to see that happen to anybody,” Campbell said. “I have a lot of respect for him, but whether it’s him or somebody else, injuries are tough, tough to come back from.
Added Campbell: “He’s becoming the face of the game now, one of the key faces of the NHL. In an Olympic year, a lot of things that are negative about it for his own personal game it’s unfortunate. Injuries do happen, it’s something that you have to come to expect, unfortunately. It’s the beginning of a long process when you get injured, and he’s an important player to his team and to the league, but he’s a strong guy. I know he works hard, and I’m sure he’ll be back stronger than ever.”