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Stamkos' presence 'uplifting' to Lightning

Sidelined Tampa Bay captain helping teammates through series with Detroit

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Steven Stamkos is "around our team a lot," Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Friday, with the center almost two weeks removed from surgery to repair a blood clot near his collarbone.

"Stammer's recovering ... he's been around our team a lot," Cooper said prior to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Detroit Red Wings at Amalie Arena (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, FS-D, FS-F, CBC, TVA Sports). "It's just killing him not to be able to play.

"He's been in touch with a lot of guys. Obviously, he's staying out of the public eye a little bit. But it's just hard, because we want him playing, he wants to be playing so bad."

The recovery time prior to the surgery on April 4 was said to be 1-3 months. Cooper did not update that timeline, and did not comment when asked if Stamkos had a second surgery.

"It's awesome to have him around," alternate captain Ryan Callahan told The Tampa Tribune. "He's been here (in the playoffs) before, so he knows what we're going through, how we're feeling. It's good, it's uplifting to have him around the room."

Stamkos last played March 31. He led Tampa Bay with 36 goals in the regular season, and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"He's our captain, our leader,'' defenseman Victor Hedman told the newspaper. "And he's one of my best friends, having played together for seven years. That's why first and foremost you worry about his health and making a 100 percent recovery. Hockey comes second when it comes to that stuff."

Cooper said the Stamkos injury is different to the players because it is not clearly visible, compared to defenseman Anton Stralman, who can been seen limping as he recovers from a fractured fibula.

"He's good, good spirits," Cooper said of Stamkos. "It's the tough part that he can't jump on the ice with us."

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