Many players around the National Hockey League have already made their way back out onto the ice and have resumed their training during Phase 2 of the NHL's Return to Play protocols in an effort to be in the best shape possible for the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can't blame players for doing everything in their power to get every conceivable advantage on the competition for what is no doubt going to be an intense and grueling tournament, but with extra training also comes additional risk of injury, something the Tampa Bay Lightning are now contending with at perhaps the worst possible time.
A report from Lightning insider Erik Erlendsson has revealed that Lightning star forward Steven Stamkos suffered an injury at some point during Phase 2 of the NHL's Return to Play and as a result is now expected to miss the start of training camp. The injury is being described as a "lower body injury" but of course that could mean any number of things and we do not have any additional details regarding the nature of the injury at this time. Lightning general manager Julien Brisebois has however confirmed that Stamkos is still skating in spite of the injury and is expected to join the Lightning prior to the start of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Although this does appear to be a relatively minor injury to Stamkos it comes at a terrible time for the Lightning and for Stamkos himself. Players have been on a forced hiatus for months now and no doubt will need all the time they can get on the ice, especially with their teammates, in an effort to get back up to speed in an impossibly short amount of time and Stamkos' time will now be even more limited. How much of a factor this will be come playoff time remains to be seen, but the more time Stamkos is forced to miss the bigger the impact is likely going to be.
Things are not all doom and gloom here for the Lightning however, Julien Brisebois made it clear that he does expect Stamkos to be joining them at camp at some point. The Lightning GM did not specify when that would be but it does seem to indicate his belief that this is a relatively minor injury. He also had a great quote this morning that perfectly sums up how a lot of teams are no doubt feeling at the moment.
"We're going to embrace the suck and dance in the rain,' said Brisebois.
The Lightning are set to face the Capitals, Flyers and Bruins in the Eastern Conference round robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers beginning on August 1st.