- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos has been cleared to play after being sidelined since November by a broken right shin.

The team announced Wednesday that Stamkos will return to the lineup Thursday night at home against Buffalo. He was injured on Nov. 11 at Boston.

Stamkos, who has 14 goals and 23 points in 17 games this season, called it an “exciting day for me.”

“Adversity is a good test and you’re going to have to go through it in your career, so you hope it makes you a better player and a better person,” Stamkos said. “I have a new perspective on my career as a professional athlete and how hard you have to work to maintain that.”

The broken right shin also kept the high-scoring forward from playing for Canada in the Sochi Olympics. He was replaced on the Olympic roster by Martin St. Louis, who was traded Wednesday to the New York Rangers.

The NHL season resumed last week. Stamkos was cleared to play after X-rays Wednesday showed his leg has healed.

Steven saw Lightning medical director Dr. Ira Guttentag and based on the latest X-ray, a clinical exam and his functionality on and off the ice we are pleased to announce he is cleared to play.” Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement.

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