Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos will undergo surgery for a core muscle injury and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season and potentially the first round of the playoffs.
The Lightning said Saturday that Stamkos will be out for approximately six to eight weeks, including rest and recovery. The Lightning are second in the Atlantic Division and the playoffs are scheduled to begin the week of April 6.
“Anytime you have a big part of your team, and he’s your captain, it’s a loss,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “But it’s also used as motivation for him, so let’s try and extend our season and keep going and it will be a pretty good bonus to get him back.’’
Stamkos has 29 goals and 66 points this season, both second on the team behind Nikita Kucherov. The surgery will be performed Monday by Dr. Michael Brunt at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Stamkos, the overall No. 1 draft pick in 2008 and twice the NHL’s top goal scorer, will miss a significant amount of action due to injury for the fourth time since 2014.
“He has been pretty unlucky with injuries at some inopportune times,” center Tyler Johnson said. “But he’s a guy, not necessarily you’re going to fill that hole, but it’s going to take everybody to rally behind it, everyone’s going to have to have a little bit more of a role and step up. We’re going to have to do it together.’’
After not missing a game because of injury in his first five seasons, Stamkos suffered a broken leg in Boston during a game on Nov. 11, 2014, when he crashed into the goal post and had to be stretchered off the ice. He underwent surgery to insert a titanium rod in the leg and missed all but 37 games that season.
In April 2016, Stamkos was diagnosed with a blood clot near his collarbone that required surgery to remove an upper rib and forced him to remain on blood thinners. He returned in May for a Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh.
The following season he was limited to 17 games after suffering a partial tear of the meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 15, 2016, that required surgery. Stamkos missed the remainder of the season as Tampa failed to qualify for the playoffs.
“You feel horrible for him the amount of games that he has lost,” forward Alex Killorn said. “But credit to him he’s always come back really strong. I think that just talks to his character the way he has done it in the past and we know he’ll do it again.’’