He’s Back! Crosby Returns to NHL Action, But Now What?

Last year Sidney Crosby recorded 66 points in only 41 games, and had a post-lockout record 25 game point scoring streak. Sid the Kid gave NHL fans a half season of shear brilliance, before back-to-back headshots resulted in a concussion that shut him down for the year and has kept him out of the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup for the first 20 games of the 2011-2012 season.

Thankfully for hockey fans everywhere, and even more so for Penguins fans, number 87 will be back in Pittsburgh’s lineup tonight as the New York Islanders pay visit to the Consol Energy Center. For fans of the National Hockey League, it will be nice to have a bonafide superstar to watch, as Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has played uninspired hockey so far this season and Steven Stamkos has only recently began to show signs of the Maurice Richard Trophy winner fans have become to expect. The NHL itself has to be thrilled, as their marque athlete is now back in action and will surely bring them more revenue. In fact, the CBC will be on air tonight with a special broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada, as they will show the Penguins-Islanders game.

(I just hope the Islanders won’t be wearing their terrible new third jersey tonight. There is no way I can watch 60 minutes of hockey with that disaster of a uniform on the ice.)

Regardless, the Penguins, who without Crosby have an 11-6-3 record, which is good enough for second place in the Eastern Conference, will undoubtedly welcome back their captain with open arms as they look to catch their Pennsylvania rivals from Philadelphia at the topping of the East. But in all honesty, the Penguins could be 0-20-0 so far this season, as the return of Crosby marks the real start of their regular season in the eyes of most. It has been painful for fans to watch Crosby appear perfectly fine in practice, yet to only be told he is not ready for game action. Everyday since Crosby, his doctor, and team management told the media in September 87 was cleared for contact, Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma has been harassed on a daily basis to provide a date for his captain’s return.


During the long months since Crosby’s concussion, many have speculated about what the next step for the 24-year-old should be. Myself, I heard people say he should shut it down for good and it a career, to he should wait until headshots and concussions go down in the NHL, to he shouldn’t come back until Pittsburgh has a heavyweight on their bench who can be his personal bodyguard. Besides what people felt the criteria for Crosby’s return needed to be, it was more a matter of when than if he would return—at least for most.

Now that the day has finally come, the questions shift from when will he be back to how effective will he be. Obviously it remains to be seen just how much Crosby’s concussion will affect his play, especially after being removed from NHL game action for nearly a year. Can Sid the Kid return to the level of offensive dominance we as fans have come to expect? Or will his concussion change the way he plays the game, leading to him becoming a less effective player?


Crosby plays the game with intensity and unmatched vision. There are few players in the league with his level of hockey sense and none of them match his level of competitiveness. With that competitiveness comes physical contact, and lots of it. Crosby does not play with reckless abandon like Alex Ovechkin, but rather he takes a great deal abuse in the corners and in front of the net to produce offensive chances. Beyond the physical aspect, there is the question of whether he’ll see the game the same way. Will he be able to think ahead of his opponents like he has been accustomed to? What about his confidence? How much faith does he have in himself after such a long layoff?

 Personally, I think Sid picks up right where he left off. He’s certainly anxious to get back on the ice and play a real game—I mean there are few people who love hockey as much as Sidney Crosby. He has taken all the necessary precautions to ensure he returned to NHL action when he was 100-percent ready, and clearly hasn’t rushed himself back. And there is no doubt in my mind that Sidney Crosby will finish in the top five in scoring by the end of the year. Make sure you bookmark this so you can come back in April and see how right I am.

Call him what you want—most will call him a whiner—but Sidney Crosby is the best hockey player on the planet right now and no plays the game with more passion than him. But, again, will Crosby’s concussion inhibit him and cause him to play a more timid style of game? Will he become the next Eric Lindros or Marc Savard? Or will he be the Sidney of old? Just like a concussion it’s unpredictable, but what do you think?

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