SOCHI, Russia -- The Canadian men's hockey team is expected to announce a replacement for injured center Steven Stamkos within the next 48 hours, Hockey Canada spokesman Brad Pascall said Thursday.
Stamkos, of the Tampa Bay Lightning, underwent surgery in November to insert a rod into his broken leg and appeared to be progressing rapidly. However, an examination done on Wednesday showed that the bone hadn't completely healed and he wasn't cleared to play. He will be replaced by Martin St. Louis of the Lightning.
Pascall said that although Stamkos had been expected to play the wing, there's no guarantee he will be replaced by a winger.
"We're looking for what we think is the best player that's going to help us win," Pascall said. "Right now, we have a lot of centermen that have to move to the wing. Positionally, we're looking for the best player."
He added, "We were very hopeful that his recovery was coming along. ... Steven has been a great player internationally representing Canada in the past and we hope that he'll represent us again many times in the future."
Stamkos expressed his disappointment in a statement released by the Lightning.
"I honestly believe that we did everything possible in order to have my injured leg ready in time for the Olympics, but I realize you can't force healing," he said. "I know, in the best interest of my long-term health, I cannot represent Canada in Sochi, as much as I would like to."
U.S. winger Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks will make a detour before traveling to Sochi. He was given permission to miss the team's final game before the Olympic break so he can travel to Buffalo for the funeral of his grandfather.
Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara was given permission to miss his team's last two games in order to carry the Slovakian flag into the Olympic stadium during Friday's opening ceremony.