Apr. 14, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) during a face-off against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Stamkos is up and walking around without crutches or cast

Furthering the notion that professional hockey players are the toughest athletes in just about any sport, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos walked, yes…walked, into his press conference this morning without the aid of crutches or even a cast.

Let me point out to you that Stamkos is under 14 days removed from having surgery which involved have a titanium rod inserted into his leg to stabilize the fracture to his right tibia from what has become known as the “break heard round the world.”

The news first broke on Twitter when Lightning Beat Reporter Missy Zielinski tweeted out the following message to the Bolts Nation.

As we all know, Stamkos and Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton were heading down the ice towards the Lightning net when Stamkos lost his edge and came crashing down onto the ice, his right tibia connecting with the goal post resulting in the fracture.

A few days later, he had successful surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to insert the rod and stabilize the break before returning to Tampa on November 14th where he opted to begin an “aggressive rehab” to prepare for his eventual return to the ice.

It was originally believed that Stamkos would be required to miss at least 3 months due to the injury, and would cause him to potentially miss this year’s Olympics in Sochi, Russia. However, at the rate he is improving, there is still a chance that he may be back in the Lightning lineup in enough time to still be considered for the Olympic Roster for Team Canada.

According to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, a return in time for the Olympics would be the “best case scenario” for Stamkos.

Thankfully, he has no intention of rushing things.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Stamkos back in the Lightning lineup as soon as possible, and especially in time for Olympic participation; however, I absolutely do not want him to do something that could potentially hinder his long-term progression and/or cause a potentially career-ending injury.

While Stamkos is nowhere near ready to lace up his skates and start hitting the ice, today’s press conference gave Tampa Bay Lightning fans that their top line center is working vigorously on returning much sooner rather than later.

What do you think of the progress that Stamkos has made in the two weeks since his injury? Do you think he’ll be back in the Lightning lineup in enough time to participate in the Sochi Olympics, or will he need a little more time to properly recover? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.

Tags: NHL Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning

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