Taking the ice for a brief moment of time prior to the Tampa Bay Lightning's practice Monday, Steven Stamkos experienced a minor hiccup in his recovery, as he immediately decided to opt for a private off-ice workout instead.
"When I wake up and get out of bed, sometimes it feels like I've never had a broken leg and some days it feels like I have," Stamkos said. "It's really in those first couple of steps where I know if I'm going to feel it or not.
"It didn't feel the best this morning and I didn't want to risk anything. At this stage you have to err on the side of caution."
The decision came with some added disappointment after Stamkos was cleared for light contact Saturday.
Head coach Jon Cooper said there was a possibility to get Stamkos banging around with his teammates during Monday's practice, but he was not upset when Stamkos was unavailable, saying he is still way ahead of any schedule doctors had projected.
"I think he was feeling a little bit of soreness today and he didn't want to bang into guys," Cooper said. "He just wanted to skate by himself and we're going at his pace, so I have no problem with that."
What is making each and every move by the superstar center more heavily observed under the microscope is the fact that the opportunity to compete with Team Canada in the Olympics is nearly two weeks away.
"It's a bigger story now because there's a deadline," Stamkos said. "If there wasn't, I'm sure we wouldn't be having as many conversations because usually when you're hurt you come back whenever you feel ready."
Stamkos admitted that they are pushing hard during rehab with the magnitude of the Olympics. He said in an "ideal situation" he would like to play in a few games with Tampa Bay before Sochi.
However if things do not go as planned, he and Team Canada's management and staff will have to see what is in his and the team's best interests.
Luckily the two parties have not had that type of conversation yet.
From Cooper's end, he said the results of his 10-week X-ray turned out "awesome" and that things are still status quo as far as Stamkos is concerned.
"You can't sit here and say Monday was a setback," Cooper said. "A setback would be he's not coming on the trip – that would be a setback – but he's coming on the trip and everything's going as planned."
With the road to recovery being a long and difficult process, Stamkos was the first to say that this is not the last of his aches and pains, pointing out there will be times after his return that he expects to take practices off due to lingering soreness.