Stamkos’ Captaincy Comes At Perfect Time
Nothing may have felt perfect at the time, but one thing was just right Thursday evening.
The Tampa Bay Lightning skated onto the ice before puck drop and one player was noticeably absent - not the obvious No. 26, but No. 91.
Then from the tunnel Steven Stamkos emerged donning a "C" on his Bolts' blue in front of a sold out crowd at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The decision to name Stamkos as the 10th captain in franchise history was "no-brainer" to many, including head coach Jon Cooper.
A first overall draft pick in 2008, it was something that he was eventually destined for from the start, but Stamkos patiently waited his turn as the veterans before him were the next heirs to the "C."
Now the longest tenured veteran of the Bolts, Stamkos has earned that distinction.
The move to wait his turn oozes the world class character that Stamkos has come to be known for from not only the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, but across the entire National Hockey League.
Now no one stands in his way.
And though St. Louis' departure is still a very fresh wound, his veteran presence since Stamkos' arrival in the 2008-09 season, along with former teammate Vincent Lecavalier's, has undeniably benefitted Stamkos, who will look to instill that same morale and drive in the locker room before him.
His character was again put on display this campaign when he suffered what could have been a season-ending injury. Admitting his broken leg pushed him to not only a physical, but mental limit of what he could handle, he came out of the dark with a stronger mindset than four months earlier.
"It's time," Cooper said.
Stamkos' first task as the leader of Tampa Bay will be to see if his club can overcome the adversity that has been a constant theme for the Lightning all year.
If anyone can lift their team to believing they can do it, Stamkos can.