Canada has questions after Stamkos injury

TORONTO -- The head of Hockey Canada, Bob Nicholson, said he’s not sure how Team Canada will handle Steven Stamkos' injury, although it’s not beyond the realm of possibility they could include Stamkos when the Canadian Olympic team is announced in late December even if he’s not healed.

"You know what, it’s too early even to talk about that. There is an injury clause in the agreement. But whether he’s one month, two months, three months, we’ll see what happens in the next 48 hours and start to discuss that," Nicholson said before Monday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The injury clause says that teams can make changes only because of injury to their rosters once they are announced and those changes can be made basically until the start of the tournament in Sochi, Russia. That tournament begins almost exactly three months from now.

But does that mean a team could name an injured player and then make a switch if he’s not healthy enough to play in the tournament early in the New Year?

Nicholson wasn’t sure.

"We’ll look at all those options there in the next 48 hours," he said.

Nicholson insisted this isn’t about Team Canada, though, it’s about Stamkos and what is best for him. Stamkos broke his right tibia in Monday's game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins. He is expected to undergo surgery on Tuesday.

"It’s just devastating that it happened to him today. We’ve got a lot of time to figure out where we’re going to go and we just hope things go well with him," he said.

That said, the loss of one of the game’s dominant offensive players will make an already difficult job for executive director Steve Yzerman, who happens to be Stamkos’s GM in Tampa, even more difficult.

"You’re never replacing Steve Stamkos. We have a lot of great players. Steve Yzerman has a very difficult job in putting this team together, but you don’t replace Steve Stamkos and we’ll just have to find another way to make sure the lineup’s strong," Nicholson said.

Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock echoed those sentiments.

“Well, obviously brutal. Really unfortunate. Stammer came to our building the other night and he was an absolute superstar. It’s hard to be a star when you play head to head with [Pavel] Datsyuk [and] he still was that night," Babcock told ESPN.com Monday night.

Babcock added that the most important thing is how Stamkos gets through this, not Canada's Olympic team.

"You know unfortunate for him, more-so than unfortunate for Canada or Mike Babcock is him. The NHL needs stars. He’s a star. And he’s got charisma and he’s got a way about him. He loves the game and it shows and he’s a fan favorite because of it."

Wayne Gretzky joined the rest of the hockey world in expressing sympathy for the

Stamkos situation.

"It’s horrible. First of all, you know I say this all the time. Two things: One, the players today are bigger, better and stronger than we were, than [when] we played. It’s a physical game, it’s a fast game.

"Secondly, they all carry themselves so well from Crosby and Ovechkin, Stamkos, Perry, Getzlaf. Our game should be very proud of how they conduct themselves as individuals and as people and you don’t want anybody to get an injury like he sustained today. It’s unfortunate and that’s the risk of being a National Hockey League player or a professional athlete. Hopefully he mends from this and comes back even stronger. He’s a wonderful young man and I’m sure he’ll come back a better player.”