Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos has had surgery to stabilize his broken leg, the Lightning said on Tuesday, but there is no indication of when the NHL scoring leader might return to the ice or if he will recover in time for the Sochi Olympics.
Stamkos fractured his right tibia when he crashed into the post during the second period of a 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday. He is expected to return to Tampa from Boston on Thursday to begin rehabilitation, the team said in a statement.
The injury, which left Stamkos pounding his fist on the ice in frustration, is a massive blow to a Lightning team that leads the Eastern Conference and, if he fails to return in time, could hurt Team Canada's hopes at the February 7-23 Sochi Games.
Canada will be looking to defend the Olympic gold medal they won in Vancouver and the 23-year-old was considered a lock to be one of the team's top centers.
Stamkos has 14 goals and 23 points, both tied for the NHL lead, through 17 games this season as he led the Lightning to top spot in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of the Bruins.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by Peter Rutherford)