BY: John Mamola

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos spoke for the first time since finding out yesterday that he will not be cleared for participation in the 2014 Sochi Olympic games this month.  Stamkos continues to recover from a fracture in his right tibia which he suffered in a November 11th game against the Boston Bruins.

“I was disappointed.  I was a little surprised” said Stamkos.  “Going into the meeting, I was probably expecting to play tonight (vs Toronto). Based on how I was feeling and how the previous x-rays had went, it was a little shocking to be honest.”

Stamkos had been targeting Saturday’s home game against Detroit as his return date after working the past month with on ice practice and drills.  Unfortunately according to a CT scan and a meeting with Lightning medical director Ira Gutentag, rehabilitation will continue and a reevaluation will take place in 2-3 weeks.

Stamkos will remain in Tampa during the Sochi Olympic games, and fully expected to continue his break neck pace to return to the Lightning when the league resumes in late February.

“I can honestly sit here and say as a team here with the organization did everything possible to give myself a chance (to play in the Olympics).  The fact that we’re here talking about this being so close, it’s not quite a consolation but at least I can look myself in the mirror” said Stamkos.

As for his replacement on Team Canada in teammate Martin St. Louis, Stamkos says he is happy that St. Louis will get a chance to represent his home country and compete for gold in Sochi, Russia.