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.