Hockey Canada officials indicated Monday that they would name Steven Stamkos to the 25-man Olympic roster sometime in late December, discuss his injury, and see how things unfold. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)
Team Canada's Olympic brain trust will meet Wednesday in Toronto to
shorten its "list" for the 2014 Sochi Games and discuss what to do with injured superstar Steven
Stamkos. According to the IIHF, there is nothing
in the Olympic roster guidelines explicitly preventing an injured player
from being chosen to the roster.
One day after the NHL's GM meetings, Team Canada's Olympic brain trust will meet Wednesday in Toronto to shorten its "list" for the 2014 Sochi Games. In addition to some already-difficult decisions, a new one popped up: What to do with Steven Stamkos?
The 23-year-old superstar is an unexpected question mark after Monday's awful tibia break that's sidelined him for an as yet undetermined period of time. Stamkos underwent what Tampa called successful surgery on Tuesday, and anyone with a soul roots for a magnificent comeback as quickly as possible.
"Thanks to all my family, friends, and fans for all the well wishes! I will be back as soon as possible !!," he tweeted hours after suffering the setback.
No doubt Stamkos, a fitness freak, will be motivated to push himself to the limit. His Lightning are an early-season success story and he's a lock for Sochi, if healthy.
At Monday night's Hall of Fame ceremony, Hockey Canada officials indicated they would name Stamkos to the 25-man roster sometime in late December and see how things unfold. They will discuss his injury during this meeting, have the most information on his condition and are in the best position to judge the wisdom of such a move.
Can they do it? The answer appears to be yes.
According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, there is nothing in the Olympic roster guidelines explicitly preventing an injured player from being chosen to the roster. The original group of 25 must be submitted by New Year's Eve. Team Canada is expected to reveal its players slightly beforehand, while the United States will unveil its selections on Jan. 1 at the Winter Classic.
As in previous Games, the final 25 names don't need to be officially registered until 24 hours before the first game. That's Feb. 12 for Canada. From New Year's until that deadline, only injured players or those going through "extraordinary circumstances" (such as a family issue, God forbid) can be replaced.
For example, Team Canada had Jeff Carter ready to play in Vancouver when Ryan Getzlaf was hurt right before competition. The U.S. did replace injured defencemen Mike Komisarek and Paul Martin with Tim Gleason and Ryan Whitney.
However, when Russia head coach Slava Bykov said he would change his roster prior to the Olympics if he felt someone played his way off the team, the NHL and NHLPA objected. The IIHF made it clear it would not accept such a maneuver.
Ultimately, IIHF Sports Director Dave Fitzpatrick would have a significant say, but, as previously mentioned, the regulations don't foresee naming injured players. And, there's something to be said for allowing the best to compete on this enormous stage.
By late December, we'll probably have a better idea of Stamkos's recovery, which may make all of this moot. But, if it is Canada's plan to put him there on a provisional basis, it doesn't appear to be against the rules.
Elliotte FriedmanElliotte joined CBC in October 2003 and is a commentator with Hockey Night in Canada.
As part of his duties with Hockey Night in Canada, Friedman hosts Inside Hockey, a feature airing every Saturday during Scotiabank Hockey Tonight that tells the stories of the people and places that shape the game of hockey. Always committed to giving viewers the inside story, fans call follow him throughout the regular season and playoffs on Twitter.
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