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Lightning's Stamkos all smiles at being named to Team Canada

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Steven Stamkos took a 20 minute twirl on a clean sheet on Winnipeg this morning, participating in a morning skate with his Tampa Bay Lightning, and then broke into a smile he’d probably been saving for eight weeks now.

Stamkos, who broke his leg on Nov. 11 crashing into a goal post, was named part of Team Canada’s 25-player roster for the Olympics today despite still having some rehab to go until he can skate in a live game.

"It’s a dream come true and it’s an honour. It always is when you can play for your country but especially at the Olympics," said Stamkos. "We had talks leading up to the announcement that I would do everything possible to get ready for the Olympics. With Steve (Canada GM Steve Yzerman) being here, we had discussions. I kind of had an idea I’d be named to the team. If I can’t go there will be a replacement but I’ll do everything I can to be ready."

The Olympic tournament begins on Feb. 12th. Stamkos hopes to play a game or two in the NHL for the Lightning prior to heading for Russia.

"I had a pretty tough skate the other day in Calgary and a longer one in Edmonton. Today was a little shorter. After long ones you can feel it. I just don’t want to have a setback right now," he said. "I want to get better everyday whether it’s working with the trainers or on the ice."

Stamkos said pain was the biggest issue right now but he could deal with that. He added his shot and his stickhandling were fine.

"It’s about skating right now. It’s always been a strength for me and I need to get that back up to as close to 100 per cent as possible," said Stamkos.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

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