After spending four days at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Lightning C Steven Stamkos returned to Tampa on Thursday, two days after undergoing surgery for a broken right tibia sustained Monday during a game against the Bruins.
Stamkos flew home via a private charter plane from Boston on Thursday morning and announced his arrival via his personal Twitter account in the afternoon.
“Nice to be back home in Tampa. Can’t thank all the staff at Mass General enough for all their hard work and dedication the past 4 days !’’ he wrote.
Stamkos did not attend Thursday night’s home game against the Anaheim Ducks, but he did stop by the Forum during the afternoon to see the team’s trainers and visited briefly with other staff members before returning to his house.
Before the game, an oversized “Get Well Stammer’’ card was on the plaza for fans to sign and offer their own personal get-well wishes for the 23-year-old star.
There is no an established timetable for Stamkos to recover from his surgery, which included the insertion of a titanium rod the length of the tibia, though he is expected to begin his rehabilitation right away. The normal time frame is 4-6 months.
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, who was the coach in Washington when Stamkos came into the league as a rookie in 2008, called Stamkos “one of the top three players in the league’’ and said his absence is a big loss for the league.
“For the league, any time he goes into another team’s building, especially now that they go out West, they didn’t see him last year so people are going to miss him. He is a talent to behold,” Boudreau said.
When RW J.T. Brown received a phone call Monday afternoon, the 23-year-old had no idea what was taking place with the Lightning.
But Brown quickly received news that Tampa Bay had lost Stamkos to a broken leg and Brown was the player being summoned from Syracuse to take the roster spot.
Brown clearly understands he’s not here to be the replacement for Stamkos.
“I’m not going to be able to replace a player like him, that’s pretty obvious,” said Brown, who had four goals and 10 points in 13 games with Syracuse this season. “But I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
In his season debut on Tuesday, he logged 14:37 of ice time in his first NHL action since the end of the 2011-12 season, when he played the final five games with Tampa Bay after signing as a free agent out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Brown picked up his first point of the season with an assist on the Lightning’s first-period power-play goal on Thursday.
D Sami Salo missed his second game with a lower-body injury, believed to be his right leg, sustained Monday in Boston.
Salo took part in Thursday’s morning skate wearing a red no-contact jersey, and coach Jon Cooper said Salo is expected to play on the upcoming four-game road trip that starts Saturday in Phoenix.
Cooper also said C Tom Pyatt, who has been out since suffering a fractured collarbone on Oct. 8, is expected to return after Thanksgiving. D Keith Aulie (upper body) will remain out for the time being.
Nuts and Bolts
Anaheim was without C Ryan Getzlaf (upper-body injury). ... Tampa Bay scratched LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie and D Dmitry Korobov. ... B.J. Crombeen’s first-period fight with Patrick Maroon was the first fighting major for Tampa Bay since Oct. 19.