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Lightning's Stamkos still hopeful for Olympic return @NHLdotcom

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos told reporters that there's no timetable for him to return from a broken right leg, but playing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics remains a goal.

Stamkos had surgery Nov. 12 to repair a fractured right tibia and remains out indefinitely.

TSN reported Stamkos has set Feb. 6, 2014 as his target for returning. Stamkos said that wasn't the case; rather, that's a personal goal he'd like to reach in order to keep a spot on the Canadian Olympic team a possibility.

"It’s impossible to tell, really," Stamkos said. "I mentioned in my press conference I'd love to come back and play a couple games and be able to play in the Olympics. That's my goal. You have to have a goal and you work towards your goal."

Steven Stamkos
Center - TBL
GOALS: 14 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 23
SOG: 60 | +/-: 11
If Stamkos was able to return by Feb. 6, he would have two games before the Olympic break. However, he was adamant in saying he would not play in the Olympics "unless I am 100 percent."

"You have no say in that, in getting clearance just to skate or to have contact and be cleared to play," he said. "If the bone is fully healed, for some people it's less time, for some people it's more. That's why we can't have the guessing games of when I can be back. If everything goes well and the bone heals the way it's supposed to, I'd love to be back then but we won't know until that point."

Stamkos was on the bench for the Lightning's practice Wednesday and did some stickhandling. However, his feet were on the bench while the stick and puck were on the ice.

"I just wanted to get a feel for the stick," Stamkos said.

Stamkos said his rehabilitation is going well and he's starting to do some work on an underwater treadmill. However, he said his recovery is as tough mentally as it is physically.

"It's a little bit of a Groundhog Day," he said. "The first two weeks you're excited, you're coming to the rink, you're seeing a lot of progression now, you're walking around, you're stable, you're fine. Now it's just kind of a daily thing when we're doing a lot of the same exercises and stuff. It gets tough coming to the rink and not being able to go on the ice. As much as it hurts me to say this, you miss practicing and you miss skating, and you miss those days where it's a tough practice.

"When you don't have an injury you don't think about it that way. Now that I've gone through this, you definitely have a different outlook. You should just be happy and blessed you are out there being able to do what you love to do. It's the old saying, 'You don't know what you have until it's gone.' I think I've gotten to that stage now. You have to remind yourself it's going to be a long road. You just have to work hard and keep focused and do what you can."

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