Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is a big-picture guy when it comes to the team’s season and playoff disappointment.
He realizes there was a young team, somehow dealt with injuries and distractions but a bitterness remained because they knew they could do better. Next year, Stamkos told reporters during his exit interview, will be better thanks to the hockey and life lessons.
Also, I think I’m going to nickname Steven Stamkos as Captain Obvious. I feel for the reporters who have to transcribe their interviews and edit soundbites. Stamkos says “obviously” to begin most sentences and as transitions. I’d be interested in what would not be obvious to him or us.
With that said, I transcribed his exit interview to remove as much of the use of “obviously” as I could. Obviously.
“It was obviously disappointing. You feel like it was really just yesterday we were all exciting about clinching a playoff spot and now that we’re out it’s obviously disappointing for our group.
“When you’re out it doesn’t take long for you to realize you’re no longer in it.
“I think guys realize that we were proud the way we played this year, especially with everything we had to deal with as a team and how we did deal with it,. Our goal was to make the playoffs and once you get there you want to win some games and obviously get deep. You don’t envision being swept in the first round.
“I think we learned what it takes to win. The consistency it takes, the work ethic, the sacrifice. When we sit here in the summer and look back at it, I hope everyone can realize how hard it is to get there and what you have to do to win at that level
“We want to get back to that stage every year. We don’t want to be once every couple year kind of thing. I think we have a group where we can be there every year.
“We have a lot of young guys that stepped in and played well this year. They have a year under their belt, they have a playoff series under the belt. The experience is only going to help you. I definitely think we are going to be a team in the mix for years to come.
On dealing with his leg injury
“I want to make sure I start strengthening that. I usually take 3, 4 weeks off after the year. I think this year it might be a little less than that especially focusing on the right leg and trying to strengthen and try to get full range before the injury.
“It doesn’t feel the way it felt before the injury, that’s for sure.
“I think just strength wise it’s going to take a good summer of training getting some of the muscle mass back, the explosiveness, and quickness back in the muscles. It’s probably going to be a bit a little bit challenge this summer but it’s something that needs to be done.
“This was the first major injury I ever had to deal with, I think I surprised myself with how upbeat and motivated I was during that time. It was tough, but I don’t think I really sat there and felt sorry for myself.”
“This summer is going to be a little different than the others. Maybe not as much downtime because I want to make sure that I get that leg as good as I can, heading into next season. “
Dealing with distractions
“This wasn’t your typical year. There was a lot of stuff thrown at you as a team, and me personally as well. You try to learn from all those experiences. You have to go through some adverse moments to get better as a person and as a player. As tough as it is to go through at the time, it’s frustrating. There’s so a different mix of emotions, but at the end of the day when you look back at it all, it’s probably for the best.
“I learned a lot about myself and the team this year. For the most part, it was good stuff we could use to get better.
“This year was a tough one with the injury and you work so hard to try to get back and play for your country and you miss that, then the Marty trade, and then the playoffs here, then we deal with some more injuries and you get swept.
“It’s kind of been a rollercoaster of emotions, but I think at the end of the day, hopefully we can all learn from this and go through it, which we did together. We stuck together as a team. This bitterness you feel right now you use as motivation the next time around.
“I don’t know if you can get through a year where you just focus on hockey There’s always certain things come up that you have to deal with individually and you have to deal with collectively as a team. I think we prepared ourselves well for everything that was thrown at us this year.
“We’ll be better suited to handle those situations, and even better than we did this year, which is a positive thing considering how well we did do it this year.
Changes to the team
“I think Mr. Vinik has done an unbelievable job of giving us the best chance to win. He’ll be the first one to tell you that he wants our team to be even better. I can’t sit here and speculate and guess what’s going to happen. If I have to make an educated guess, the management staff and ownership is going to do anything possible to better our team. We have the young pieces that we haven’t had the last couple years. They’re here now and there’s even a couple other guys that are going to be coming up. That’s an exciting thought.
There’s not many teams in the league this year or in the past 50 years that had 10 rookies in their lineup in the playoffs. When you look at it from that point of view, it was kind of special what we were able to do and how impressive they were and hopefully everything goes the way it’s been going, just keep getting better, and having gotten that experience this year, they’re going to be able to know exactly what to expect heading into next year, their second camp and hopefully the playoffs again.
On leadership/personal changes
“I don’t want to change too much because that’s when you get yourself focusing on other things, too many things. For me, we have a great leadership group here. We understanding all the things we overcame as a team this year.
“For me, I want to make sure I’m healthy heading into next year and as strong as I can be. We have the pieces here. That’s why it’s exciting. We want to get right back at it. It was a bitter taste in our mouth losing four straight. We knew we had more to offer.
On Ben Bishop’s injury…
“Bish is a great goalie. It’s tough with what happened to him and the injury heading into the playoffs. A lot of people don’t realize come playoff time you need to be healthy. That was a thing where we were obviously missing a big piece.
“I think for Bish, this was a huge year for him confidence wise to be able to come in here to get that No. 1 starting job and really kind of take the ball and run with it. He’s going to have that much more confidence heading into next year. Hopefully his comfort level is there, and hope he can build off of this year because he was a big piece of why were so successful as a team.”
(The above was transcribed from the Lightning’s media availability with Steven Stamkos, which can be viewed here.)