Yeah, we don’t know exactly what that headline means either. But Christmas and Ferraris are good, right? There was also some mention of horses belonging in barns during Sidney Crosby’s press conference, so we’re sure he’ll let us know when those stray beasts are rounded up again.

But here’s what we do know: he’s not retiring. Since this is the first time widespread speculation largely based in the Great White North has turned out to be completely baseless, we’ll let you gather yourself for a moment.

Alright, let’s carry on then.

Crosby was asked the retirement question in several different ways, which is a time-honoured journalistic trick. A word is changed here or there, while the press corps waits for a different response that’s filled with more juice than the last one.

Sid’s first response to the retirement question was blunt and direct.

“Retirement? No. I think I’ve always thought about the consequences of this injury and being smart with it, but no I don’t think I’ve ever thought about retirement.”

The second time when he was asked to “acknowledge what everyone is thinking.” When he did that, he said that anyone wagering a sawbuck on his retirement is going to lose a few shiny dollars.

“I wouldn’t bet on that.”

“As far as my situation, I’m lucky. I think I’m in pretty good shape, and I’m not preparing for that possibility.”

The small glimmer of hope that we were all waiting for came when Crosby was asked if it is “likely or unlikely” that he’ll play again this season, and he went with option No. 1. Yes, he’s saying there’s a chance.

But how good that chance is remains unclear. Throughout the rest of the press conference both Penguins general manager Ray Shero and Crosby’s doctors–Micheal Collins and Ted Carrick–repeated what we’ve heard for many months. Crosby’s progressing, he’s had setbacks while trying to exert himself, and there’s no specific timetable for his return.

Carrick was responsible for the Christmas analogy, saying that today is a celebration because of the progress Crosby has made in recent weeks.

“It’s Christmas for Sid Crosby and the people who care for him,” said Carrick. “Our greatest direction is to ensure that Sid has a fruitful life.”

Agreed, and personal health and well-being has to come long before a return to playing a game. Collins said right now Crosby is “the best that we’ve seen,” adding that his long-term prognosis is excellent, and that he’ll be able to avoid any lasting effects.

Collins also touched on Crosby’s mid-summer set back, saying that it occurred because when he was exerting himself at 80-90 percent, the Penguins forward was fine. When he went to push for that extra gear, the fogginess returned.

That cloudy state was compared to a high definition TV that’s been scrambled to become the normal, crappy mid-90s standard definition set. Crosby is more than just a high definition player in terms of his neurological system–he’s a Ferrari (Collins’ words, not mine, because I would have cautiously gone for the far safer Volvo).

Classifying Crosby’s current state as being in “re-conditioning mode,” Collins said that we don’t need to be afraid of the boogeyman.

“I don’t look at concussions like the boogeyman here,” he said. “I anticipate Sid returning to hockey and doing well in the future. Before Sid goes back to play we’re going to make sure he’s 100 percent.”

The process of getting Crosby back to that 100th percentile remains intricate and likely lengthy, and it’s one that both Collins and Carrick said would be done with extreme caution and care. We shouldn’t speculate, but we will anyway. We’ll see Crosby this year, but it won’t be until January at the very earliest.

There will likely be comments both here and elsewhere calling Crosby names (why, just look at our Facebook page!) and comparing his level of pain tolerance to weak objects and creatures. These are the voices of hockey’s cavemen, the guardians for Mike Milbury and Don Cherry who safeguard the sacred definition of toughness, strength, and what it means to play like a good ol’ Canadian boy.

It’s also the voice of those who enjoy hating greatness, which is fine, and is a puzzling practice that’s been around since long before the days of Gretzky. Eventually though regardless of your opinion of Pittsburgh’s elite sniper and playmaker, we’ll all come to understand one simple, indisputable fact about the NHL.

It’s not a better league without Sidney Crosby, and it never will be.

Comments (3)

  1. “…Collins said that we don’t need to be afraid of the boogeyman.”

    Well, not anymore, right?

    “…Mike Milbury and Don Cherry…”

    I haven’t read or heard anything from either of them that would lead me to believe they think Crosby is a pussy. From what I remember of last season, Cherry was ragging on the Pens for letting Crosby play while he was obviously injured. Both of them, from memory, said shit like “Mr. Crosby, you stay out until you’re better.” So, if you have heard or read something from Cherry or Milbury where they question Crosby’s character, I’d love to read it.

    • You’re taking what I wrote in reference to Milbury and Cherry a touch too literally.

      There are many, many misguided voices out there who question Crosby’s toughness, using names and adjectives that I’d rather not type here. Again, just look at our Facebook page for a sampling of this embarrassing caveman view.

      Milbury and Cherry are two examples of strong voices who praise toughness and old time hockey, and indirectly influence those who still have their heads somehow firmly buried in the sand on concussions in the year 2011.

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