Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Meeting Steven Stamkos
Posted May 30, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated May 30, 2008 at 06:14 PM
Greetings from North of the Border. I know it’s been a while since I posted, but based on the lack of angry emails I’ve received, it seems only the crickets are concerned…..
For those that really want to know, the ankle sprain is getting better, but still not 100 percent (How in the world did Sidney Crosby get back on the ice after five weeks. . . wait, you don’t need to answer that!!!!) Being doing some therapy with it, but don’t quite have back full range of motion and it’s still not at full strength. But the good news - at least from my wife’s perspective - is that I can get out and mow the grass. Cleaning the garage, well, that’s for another day!!!!
I’m currently up in Toronto for two purposes. The first was to have the chance to meet Steven Stamkos and his family, which I did on Thursday night. The other was to swing by the combine today for the physical testing of the top prospects, including Stamkos, to find out about this VO2 bike test they put the prospects through, which has barf buckets right next to the bikes. Look for that story in Saturday’s paper.
As far as Stamkos goes, he certainly seems like one of the nicest high-profile teenagers you might ever meet. Spent just over two hours at the family house outside of Toronto and had some great conversations. Very humble family and you can see how that has carried over to Steven. Despite all the heavy marketing the Lightning have already done with Stamkos, they still answer everything with “if Tampa Bay drafts’‘. They are taking nothing for granted, and that’s just how they are, they don’t want to get ahead of anything. In fact, although Steven is set to get his high school diploma at the end of the month (he has his prom, by the way, in the middle of the month) and everybody seems to guarantee that Stamkos will play in the NHL next year, he’s already enrolled in college courses in the fall, just in case.
Steven’s mother, Lesley, has spent plenty of time in the Tampa Bay area as her parents had a home in Seffner for a number of years, although they recently sold to move back to the Toronto area for health reasons. Steven, however, has only been to Florida once when he was about two-years-old. Went to the beach and spent a day at Disney World where Lesley said he fell asleep in the stroller with one of those 16-pound lollipops in his hand, stuck to his nose. Steven doesn’t remember much of the trip. No doubt he’ll get plenty of opportunities to relive some of that history in the coming years.
Took a drive over to Sarnia on Wednesday and got the chance to tour the building were he played junior hockey the past two years. Sarnia GM Alan Millar fully expects that Stamkos has played his final game with Sarnia. Said Stamkos’ has such great hockey sense and smarts, and has such good speed, that he will no doubt make the jump to the NHL next season.
That’s the short version of what I’ve been doing this week. The long version, look for it in the paper on June 8 (that’s a Sunday, by the way). I’ve still got some interviews to conduct on the subject, but from what I can gather to this point, it’s hard to find anything negative about either Stamkos’ character or game.
One other note, briefly communicated with prospective owner Oren Koules late last night and he feels that Thursday’s meeting with the NHL Executive Committee “went well.’’ It’s the last step before the committee offers a recommendation to the board of governors, who will vote on the sale probably at a June 18 meeting in New York.