Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos will not participate for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics after a CT scan Wednesday showed the tibia in his right leg is not completely healed.
"After reviewing the CT scan this afternoon, Dr. Gutentag made it clear to me and to Steven that the tibia is not completely healed and therefore he should not be participating in game action at any time in the near future," general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement released by the team. "Although the doctor was very pleased to this point with the healing process, he explained that the callus surrounding the fracture site is not 100 percent consolidated, and Steven will not be cleared to play in a game until that happens. It was a pretty clear cut decision, no gray areas at all."
Stamkos will continue his rehabilitation with the Lightning training staff and be evaluated again in 2-3 weeks.
Stamkos had been practicing with the team and taking contact, and his goal had been to return for Tampa Bay's game Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings to test out the leg prior to the Olympic break.
"Today is obviously very disappointing for me," Stamkos said. "I honestly believe that we did everything possible in order to have my injured leg ready in time for the Olympics, but I realize you can't force healing. I know, in the best interest of my long term health, I cannot represent Canada in Sochi, as much as I would like to. I would like to thank the training staff for their dedication and hard work and I look forward to returning to the Lightning once cleared by the medical team."
Stamkos broke his leg less than three months ago, Nov. 11 against the Boston Bruins, when he fell and collided with the goal post. He had 14 goals in his first 17 games and since the start of the 2011-12 season has 103 goals in 147 games.
Canada will now have to replace Stamkos on its Olympic roster and among the frontrunners for the spot is his teammate, Martin St. Louis, who has 25 goals and 54 points in 56 games. Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux and Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal are also prime candidates.
Yzerman told ESPN.com via text message Wednesday evening that a replacement player announcement will take place "within 48 hours."
Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who will serve as Canada's captain, said after his team's 5-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday that he was sorry to see Stamkos won't be able to play.
"I think we all figured that if there was anyone that was going to find a way to get back, it would be him," Crosby told the media. "I'm sure it's going to be more difficult for him than anyone else. You feel for him."