It seems as though the return of forward Steven Stamkos may have been premature.
The Tampa Bay Lightning's star forward and captain made his long awaited return to the ice on Wednesday but played just 2:47 seconds of hockey before being forced to remain on the bench for the remainder of the game, a sign that not all was well with Stamkos. Much to his credit though he did look dynamic while he was out on the ice for the Lightning, even managing to pick up a goal despite obviously being at much less than 100%. There was some hope that a few extra days off would give him some additional time to recover and come back in this series yet again, however all hope of a possible return has now been snuffed out.
According to comments from Lightning head coach Jon Cooper on Sunday, we have now seen the last of Steven Stamkos in the Stanley Cup Final with Cooper ruling him out for the remainder of the series. It's a heartbreaking story for the Lightning, their fans, and most of all for Steven Stamkos who has captained this team to tremendous success in recent years only to be unable to play at inarguably the franchise's most crucial moment in recent history. The Lightning of course won the Stanley Cup in 2004, but that was 4 years prior to Stamkos being drafted.
"Hopefully the next time we see him on the ice is for a trophy presentation," said Cooper.
It's a tough way to go out for Stamkos and regardless of what team you cheer for it is difficult not to feel sympathy for the man.