Now hopefully the Penguins won't suck so bad.

Welp, Sid the Kid is comin’ back.

Kevin Allen reported today that Sidney Crosby has been cleared for full contact (hold on, check that – everyone reported this, I just saw it from Mr. Allen first):

Crosby, who hasn’t played since Jan. 5 because of a concussion, wore a black helmet in practice Thursday, instead of the white helmet that meant he was off limits for any hitting. Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma confirmed after practice Crosby’s status had changed.

The first thought I had was - man would I ever lay off him in practice. Hell, I’d lay off him in games.

Being the guy who knocks Crosby out for an extended period of time (and god forbid you end his career) would be the equivalent of being Steve Bartman. You’d be forever known for one moment.

So there Sid is, in his black helmet, and possibly in games, just a human foul ball, drifting towards the bleachers for some skater to go ahead and take his shot at.

You’d be doomed to Buckner-like name association despite whatever else you do in your career. You’d be Buck-man. And that’s reason enough for me to dial it back a few notches (that, and y’know, not ending a guy’s career).

To anyone who thinks “well, just don’t give him a head shot,” it’s not that easy. In all our clamouring for head shots to be eliminated, we forget that sometimes unlucky things just happen by accident with speed and human reflexes. Hell, I once gave a  forearm shiver to an eight-year old girl (link isn’t video, it’s my explanation of it) during a team promotion because she surprised me. I wouldn’t want to be within forearm distance of The Next One.

I’d be especially cautious in practice. I’ve skated against a number of players who make their return to the team for practice fresh off knee surgery or something, and the second the puck goes into the corner against the guy all you can think is “dial it back, let him get it and see me, and then I’ll apply pressure.”

But when it’s Sid? I’d be playing two-hand touch at best.

There are a lot of players out there who think differently than me. They think “if you’re out here, you’re up for it like everybody else.”

And they’re right for thinking that, and that probably  made them better, more effective players than I was against those guys.

But could you do it (Pens haters need not apply)? You see Sid in a vulnerable position for a legal hit, could you finish him as hard as you would, say, Daniel Carcillo?

Lord knows I couldn’t. I don’t wanna be a Buckman.

Comments (14)

  1. What about guys who are already, effectively, “Buckmans”? Take anyone off the top fighters list on and put them on the ice. Why would they pull up on Crosby? They’re already known physical players, may as well get that cred, you know? Particularly if you’re in the same conference/division as Sid. You’ve got the playoffs to make, Bourne. More worrying about that, less about Sid’s precious grey matter.

  2. You might not want to be a Buckman Bourne, but after hearing that story you’re just a good old Toews

  3. You have to play him hard (but fair) and let the chips fall. But anybody who decides to step, even slightly, over the line will probably be met with a horde of Pens team mates on the ice as well as a horde of sports writers taking their shots as well.

    • Pens should jump on a guy who does so much as look the wrong way at Sid. The value of a good enforcer.

      • I agree with this point but just how far will a guy like Matt Cook go knowing Brendan Shanahan is watching his every move?

  4. Crosby shouldn’t be exempt from physical play but I think it would be disgraceful to make him a target. Players should be more cognizant of the ramifications of their actions given the way Brendan Shanahan has been handling discipline so far.

    It will be unfortunate if he suffers another Steckel-like blow that ends his career. It will be a disgrace to the sport if he goes down to a Stevens-on-Lindros sort of shot to the head.

    • This comment is exactly what he’s talking about. Steckel is not a dirty player. It’s been debated (and will be for a long time) if he even meant to hit Crosby. He wasn’t even punished for the play. Yet, his name is synonomous with “That guy who took out Crosby”.

      Also, for the record, Steven’s hit on Lindros was not punished. At that time, it was certainly a clean hit. If it would be or not now is a bit of a debate, as well.

  5. The real question?

    Would Roenick pull up?

  6. Well, I am not a Penguins fan, more of a West coast fan, but for the player who is dumb enough to cross the line on Sid? Or even push too hard?

    Two words…

    Matt Cooke.

    But yeah, I think I would have a hard time playing all out those first games against him. Which is probably why I suck at hockey.

  7. Smart players will hold back. Crosby playing in the NHL has to have a direct effect on the amount of escrow the players keep.

    • If you start holding back, he’ll burn you. Your team will likely wind up losing more games, and your coach is going to notice, possibly costing you your job. The moment you let yourself be intimidated on the ice is the moment you’re finished.

  8. Me personally? I would want to hold back. But I still have glowing memories of one of the greatest memories of my life in Vancouver thanks to him (golden goal!), so I have a major soft spot for him.

    As a player though? You play him just as hard as any other player. He’s an incredibly talented player, and if you aren’t playing him tough, that puck is in the back of the net.

  9. First off, Matt Cooke is not an enforcer – he’s a punk. The Pens have a couple of enforcers, but Cooke is not one of them… Second, if Crosby’s cleared for full contact, then he’s cleared for full contact. If you can’t take the heat, then stay out of the kitchen!

  10. You can still give someone a concussion with a legal hit. He’ll get hit and when he gets another concussion, the perpetrator will get suspended regardless of the legality of the hit.

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