TORONTO — Steven Stamkos hasn't played since November, yet his being named to Team Canada for the Sochi Olympics might've been the easiest decision of the entire process.
"Quite easy," said Peter Chiarelli, general manager of the Boston Bruins and a part of Steve Yzerman's staff. "He's had a terrific year, he's been hurt."
Stamkos broke his right tibia when he crashed into the net Nov. 11. The Tampa Bay Lightning star is back on the ice trying to get healthy, and Sochi is a legitimate target.
But this wasn't difficult because Canada really had nothing to lose. If Stamkos is unable to play a game by early February before the NHL breaks for the Olympics, an injury replacement can take his place.
"We're going to take it one step at a time," said Yzerman, Team Canada's executive director and GM of the Lightning. "We had to announce 25 players today. If he's healthy, he's obviously one of the 25 best players in Canada and should be on that team. We're not allowed to name 24 today and wait and see a 25th.
"If we didn't name him today, if no one is injured between now and then, and we hope no one is, we wouldn't be able to name him."
There's certainly no shortage of potential replacements who could play right wing in Sochi, including Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers and James Neal of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Speaking to reporters at the Flyers' morning skate in Newark, N.J., Giroux expressed disappointment but did not confirm he was in line to make the team in the event of an injury.
-- The Canadian Press