This may just be a head coach playing mind games, but it seems like Tampa Bay Lightning bench boss John Cooper is hinting at a possible return from his top star.
Of course it would come as a major shock to fans of the National Hockey League, and especially the Pittsburgh Penguins if star forward Steven Stamkos suddenly made an appearance in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final after missing the entire postseason up to that point, but despite being asked a number of different ways whether or not Stamkos would play tonight, Cooper refused to give a straight answer.
"We're preparing to put the best team possible on the ice to win G7," said Cooper as per Greg Wyshinski of Yahoo! Sports. "Everybody that plays tonight is cleared to play, ready to go."
Asked again and specifically about Stamkos he dodged the question once more.
"If Stamkos is in the lineup, it's our best foot forward. If he's not, it's because he was ineligible to play."
Again this could simply be a coach playing mind games with his opponent, but it certainly sounds like he's intetionally leaving the door open for a return tonight. All eyes will be on the pre-game warm ups.