Posted On Monday, 02.03.2014 / 6:31 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Lightning coach 'cheering' for Stamkos to play

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper is rooting for Steven Stamkos to make it to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, even though he knows the additional time off during the upcoming break would give the center's broken right leg the appropriate amount of time to heal.

Stamkos hasn't played since he crashed into the goal and broke his right tibia in a game against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Nov. 11. He is targeting the game Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings as his return date and is hopeful of it going well so he'll feel confident about playing in the Olympic tournament, which for Canada begins Feb. 13.

"I'm legitimately cheering for him to play, but you just sit here and say, 'If he was going to get hurt, why couldn't he have gotten hurt like a week-and-a-half or two weeks earlier?'" Cooper said Monday afternoon. "Or, 'Why couldn't the Olympics be a week later?' It's going to come right down to the wire on this one, but if anything [Monday], he looked pretty good in practice. It was his best day. I talked to him after and he said it was his best day yet. He was pretty encouraged."

Posted On Monday, 02.03.2014 / 3:58 PM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Stamkos eyeing Saturday for return

Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos has set Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings as his target date to return from a broken leg sustained less than three months earlier, according to a report by Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Lightning will host the Red Wings at Tampa Bay Times Forum in their final game prior to the NHL's two-week break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Stamkos, who was named to Canada's roster for the tournament, hopes to use the game Saturday as a measuring stick as to whether he will be able to participate in the Olympics.

Posted On Monday, 02.03.2014 / 2:36 PM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Nyquist added to Sweden Olympic team

Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist has been added to Sweden's team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, it was announced Monday.

Nyquist will replace Red Wings teammate Johan Franzen, who is on injured reserve with concussion issues.

The 24-year-old had his first NHL hat trick Sunday against the Washington Capitals and in his past eight games he has eight goals and four assists. In 30 games this season he has 13 goals and 22 points.
Posted On Saturday, 02.01.2014 / 5:17 PM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Blues' Sobotka to miss Olympics with leg injury

The St. Louis Blues have placed forward Vladimir Sobotka on injured reserve with a left leg injury. Sobotka will be re-evaluated in four weeks and the injury will keep him from participating for the Czech Republic at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Posted On Thursday, 01.30.2014 / 2:43 PM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Red Wings' Franzen to miss Olympics

Sweden Olympic hockey coach Par Marts said Thursday that Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen will not play for the team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Franzen currently is on injured reserve due to concussion issues. He originally sustained a concussion during a game Dec. 15 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He returned Sunday against the Florida Panthers after missing 16 games, but on Monday was returned to IR due to a recurrence of the concussion issues.

Posted On Thursday, 01.30.2014 / 10:36 AM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Quintal, Whitmore to serve on Olympic panel

Stephane Quintal of the NHL Department of Player Safety and Kay Whitmore of NHL Hockey Operations will be part of the four-man panel overseeing discipline for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Quintal, who serves as Director of Player Safety, has been with the NHL since 2011. He spent 16 seasons in the NHL, playing 1,037 games with the Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.

Whitmore serves as the League's director of hockey operations and goaltender equipment and has worked for the NHL since 2004. He played 14 seasons professionally, including 155 games in nine seasons with the Hartford Whalers, Vancouver Canucks, Bruins and Calgary Flames.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 10:06 PM

By Jon Lane - Staff Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Vanek embraces leadership role with Austria

NEW YORK -- New York Islanders forward Thomas Vanek will not only make his Olympic debut next month at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, he will serve as the captain of the Austrian team. The announcement was made Tuesday by national team coach Manny Viveiros.

"Just being part of it is big for our country," Vanek said. "To be named captain is something special, but we have a lot of good guys who will help me out. We have a good leadership group."

Vanek is one of three NHL players who will compete for Austria. He joins Islanders teammate Michael Grabner and Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl.

"He's obviously been around the block a few times," Grabner said of Vanek. "He's always one of the biggest icons for hockey in Austria, so it's a big honor for him. It's nice to have him as my captain. I think he's going to have a big influence on the younger players on our team and, obviously, a lot of people, including myself, can learn a lot from him.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 3:50 PM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Stamkos skates, still hoping for pre-Olympic return

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos often has said he'd like to play at least one game with the team prior to playing for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

However, on Tuesday he said that was the best-case scenario, and he would still consider playing in the Olympics even without an NHL warmup.

"The objective is to play a game," Stamkos said after skating with his teammates Tuesday in Toronto. "That's something I would really love to do. But if that's not the case there's going to be another discussion about whether I'm still going to be on that [Olympic] team. We haven't had that. It's more like we'll cross that bridge when we need to."

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who also serves as executive director of Canada's Olympic team, said much the same.

"If he gets a chance to play in a game, if he's cleared to play, great," Yzerman said. "If not, then depending on what the doctor says and how he feels, is he good to go for the first game of the tournament? He's the only one who really knows that once the doctors give him the green light to play."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 10:14 AM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Islanders' Vanek to captain Austria Olympic team

Thomas Vanek will be the captain for Austria's team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Austria coach Manny Viveiros.

"Vanek is a star player for us and also in the NHL," Viveiros said. "That's enough to make him captain. He is a role model for all young players in Austria."

The 30-year-old New York Islanders forward became the highest-drafted Austrian-born player in NHL history when the Buffalo Sabres selected him with the fifth pick of the 2003 NHL Draft.

Posted On Thursday, 01.23.2014 / 2:13 PM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Stamkos says leg 'best it's felt' since injury

Another day on the ice and more good news for Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos.

Stamkos joined his teammates on the ice Thursday at Tampa Bay Times Forum for the morning skate and said his right leg feels as good as it has since he broke it in November.

"I thought [Thursday] was the best it's felt," Stamkos told reporters. "That's a positive. Every day I've gotten on the ice trying to get a little better each time. A lot of it is physical but a lot of it is mental as well, trying different things that you can trust the healing process is taking place. … I have never had an injury like this, but I'd like to think that I'm ahead [of pace in recovery]. I'm feeling good. I know I'm not 100 percent, but it's getting there."

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