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Steven Stamkos and the Olympics

December 23, 2021, 1:12 PM ET [17 Comments]
Michael Stuart
Tampa Bay Lightning Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
When news that the National Hockey League would not be sending players to participate in the upcoming Olympic Games broke earlier this week, plenty of players had reason for disappointment. Nobody had more of a reason than Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. Stamkos, 31, was only named a reserve to the 2010 team for Vancouver, and then was hampered by injuries that prevented him from suiting up in 2014. With the NHL not participating in 2018, and now pulling out of 2022, that marks more than a decade of Olympic opportunity without an appearance for one of the game’s greatest players.

For Stamkos, this 2022 decision must especially sting. For one reason or another, Stamkos didn’t seem to be on the Olympic radar for many commentators at the start of this season. His performance and play with the Lightning through 29 games to date in 2021-22, however, completely flipped that script. With 14 goals and 35 points for the Bolts, in the face of injuries to players like Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point, Stamkos had played his way into near-lock status for Team Canada. This was going to be his time to shine.

With a resume that includes a Rocket Richard Trophy, multiple all-star appearances, a World Cup, and now two Stanley Cups as captain, Stamkos has accomplished almost everything that a hockey player could ever seek to accomplish at the professional level. Despite often being overshadowed by other names in bigger markets, he has built himself a CV that rivals that of anyone in the game. Stamkos has somehow quietly managed to build a career that will see his name in the Hockey Hall of Fame as soon as he’s eligible. The only thing really missing is an Olympic gold medal.

While missing out on 2022 doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Stamkos’ Olympic dream, it’s difficult to predict or project what things might look like in four years’ time. There will be a whole new crop of young players ready to take those spots, potentially pushing veterans like Crosby and Stamkos to the sideline. Arguably the best hope for the “old guard” is that these 2022 games get postponed a la Tokyo 2020. If you want to see Stamkos, Crosby, McDavid, and others all take to the ice at the same time on the same team in a best-on-best tournament, that might be the only chance at doing so.

As always, thanks for reading
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