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Hockey Canada reacts to Stamkos injury

by Dan Rosen

TORONTO -- The news of Steven Stamkos' injury on Monday spread quickly through the hockey world, and the blow was particularly felt inside the Hockey Canada community.

Stamkos was considered a shoo-in to make the Canadian Olympic team, but now he's out indefinitely with a broken tibia and he's scheduled to have surgery on Tuesday.

The timetable for his return has been reported at anywhere between three and six months. The men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics are scheduled to begin exactly three months from the time Stamkos goes onto the operating table.

"I'm physically sick," Ken Hitchcock, the associate coach for the Canadian Olympic team, told moments after watching Stamkos leave the ice on a stretcher.

"Not good," Mike Babcock, the head coach for Canada's Olympic team, told

"I think our depth is one of the things we have with our group, but obviously he is one of the guys we're counting on," Lindy Ruff, an assistant coach on Canada's staff, told

Steve Yzerman, who is both the general manager of the Lightning and the executive director for the Canadian Olympic team, said in a statement that "the biggest concern for me, and the rest of the Lightning, is that decisions are made in Steven's best long-term interest, and we feel this [surgery] is the appropriate course of action."

Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson echoed Yzerman's thoughts.

"This isn't about the Olympic team," Nicholson said on the red carpet prior to the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony Monday night. "This is about Steve Stamkos making sure he takes care of himself."

Nicholson, though, wouldn't rule out naming Stamkos to the Olympic team with the possibility that he might be able to return in time.

Nicholson said there is an injury clause in the Olympic agreement that allows teams to replace injured players on the roster before the Olympics, but he wasn't sure if Stamkos would fall under that because the injury occurred before the roster is named.

Olympic rosters have to be in by Jan. 1. Canada is expected to wait until at or near that deadline to name its roster.

"We'll see what happens in the next 48 hours and then start to discuss that," Nicholson said. "We were looking at naming the team by the first of January, but there is the injury clause and so we'll have to explore all of those options. We'll look at all the options here in the next 48 hours.

"It's just devastating that it happened to him," he added. "We've got a lot of time to figure out where we're going to go and we just hope things go well with him."


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