Steven Stamkos Won't Play Remainder of 2020 Stanley Cup Final for Lightning

Jenna CiccotelliContributor IIISeptember 27, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2020, file photo, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) skates during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Denver. Columbus defenseman Seth Jones, Pittsburgh forward Jake Guentzel and Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos would’ve missed some or all of the playoffs if they started in April. Instead, the silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic halting the season is those players are healthy and ready to contribute.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

If the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup, it will be without team captain Steven Stamkos.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Sunday that Stamkos, who has been "unfit to play" for the playoffs since he had core muscle surgery in March, is done for the series, according to Bryan Burns of

Stamkos played three minutes during Game 3, scoring a goal on his first shot attempt to help Tampa Bay to a 5-2 victory. After his brief appearance Wednesday, he suffered an "issue" that prevented him from returning to the ice, according to ESPN's Emily Kaplan

The decision to hold Stamkos out for the remainder of the series was made Sunday morning, one day before the series-leading Lightning could clinch the Stanley Cup in Game 6. Cooper said even his short outing in Game 3 defied expectations the team had for its captain this postseason: 

"He did everything he could to get back. And he did get back, and unfortunately he couldn't go any further. I'm sure this will all be addressed after the series is over. He gamed it out. To be honest, I didn't think he was playing at all in these playoffs. I don't think any of us did. So, he gave us 2:47 of brilliant hockey that's a phenomenal story, scored a huge goal for us in a win, and hopefully we can keep that momentum." 

After Game 3, it seemed Stamkos knew his season was over. 

"It was just an amazing experience to share with my teammates," he said, per Diana C. Nearhos of the Tampa Bay Times. "I've watched these guys be so committed to what our end goal is, and to be part of it was a dream come true. I'm so proud of these guys to be able to share that moment with them." 

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Both coach and player have alluded to Stamkos sharing details about his health after the season is over. The Lightning are hoping that when he does share what has kept him off the ice, he's doing so at a trophy celebration.