Steven Stamkos Battles Injury to Make a Memorable Return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Tampa Bay lightning captain Steven Stamkos suffered a lower body injury during phase 2 of the NHL’S Return to Play plan. The injury forced Stamkos to miss training camp despite team GM Julien BriseBois claiming he would be a full participant in camp and suggesting he would be ready to play in the qualifier round versus the Washington Capitals. Stamkos however, had different plans and a different timeline not taking part in games until game three of the Stanley Cup Final where he only played a little over two and a half minutes of the first period. In this short amount of ice time, the captain managed to score a goal and reaggravate his injury showing he wasn’t completely recovered and should have not been in the game. In an article by Jessiman-Perreault and Godley (2016) they quote Nancy Malcom (2006) writing that “individuals are socialized into playing through pain by parents, coaches, officials, teammates, and others involved in the sport.” They talk about Coaches ignoring complaints of pain, teammates downplaying injuries and harassing those complaining about them, and medical professionals shaping an athlete’s decision with comments like “what makes an athlete an athlete is the ability to play through pain” by Brian P. McKeon, Celtics chief medical officer.  

Steven Stamkos warming up ahead of his return in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals versus the Dallas Stars (Source:

This could explain why Stamkos played as there was pressure from the GM, whether intentional or not, that would make any paid professional want to push limits. It is also not Stamkos’ first rodeo with pain after never fully recovering from a broken leg in 2013. As an athlete, it is in his nature to break norms, speed up recoveries, and get back on the playing surface as soon as possible. This is not always the healthy choice, however, and because Stammer rushed his return this past season, he has now had to undergo surgery. We shall see how his rehab goes as once again there is pressure from the GM who was quoted saying he expects the rehabilitation process to last “weeks, not months”. Hopefully, Stamkos can ignore the pressure, return only when he is ready not when the team is ready to have him, and continue with his hall of fame career. 


Steven Stamkos able to join team in Stanley Cup celebrations after reaggravating his injury in Game 3 (Source: Sportsnet)

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