Sidney Crosby is beginning to reach the status of myth or phantom these days. He’s that really cool idea that you kind of remember doing awesome things. From time to time he’ll hop into his skates, haunt NHL goaltenders (see what I did there? phantom? eh?) and then fade into the realm of anticipation once again.
Well, get ready to have your hopes lifted once again as Crosby will be joining the Penguins in their morning skate on Friday according to Penguins GM Ray Shero.
Here are some of Shero’s quotes/thoughts on Crosby:
“I’m happy he’s joining the team on the trip,” Shero said. “Sid is a hockey player and he wants to play hockey. He wanted to join our team because we’re in a tough stretch. He badly wants to play and be out there. But he’s not cleared to play. We want to be very careful. Once he’s cleared to play, he’ll be the most excited guy on the ice.”
“We’ve been through a lot with concussions,” Shero said. “I know this injury and what it takes to come back from it. Every player is different. We’re getting more educated throughout the league. It requires patience.”
“Sidney Crosby is a hockey player. He wants to be on the ice,” Shero said. “He’s frustrated. As captain you want to help your team in best of times, let alone a tough streak. He feels that responsibility. When he’s cleared to play he’ll play. We can’t wait to have him back.”
I think Shero preaching patience in the second quote is really crucial. Let’s be honest for a moment, the Penguins are in dire straits right now. This is a team that, when healthy, could have the starting five players in the all-star game, picked solely on talent alone, with their goaltender manning the pipes. Unfortunately, they’re not healthy and while I’m sure they’re enjoying their claim to fame as world’s most talented crew of press box members, it’s no fun for the on-ice product.
When he’s on the ice Sidney Crosby is the best player in the sport. There used to be debate over this, there isn’t any more. The man has gotten better and better each season, added multiple facets to his game – remember when he was just a passer? – and has about as much hardware with his nameplate on it as your local trophy store.
It is a very tempting proposition for both the Penguins and Crosby to pull an Eric Lindros for the playoff push over the top (we all know how that worked out for the Flyers and the Big E, unfortunately). On the flip side of this is the way the Sabres handled Tim Connolly. Connolly was knocked out for essentially two seasons in three years because of concussion issues. The key point there is he was OUT for those two seasons – 160/162 games to be exact – and wasn’t rushed back. While the common knock on Connolly is his propensity to get hurt, he hasn’t had a concussion in five seasons.
Head injuries are a big, big issue. That being said, they’re not a career’s death sentence. With the right approach to the situation – one of patience and small steps – Crosby could be back and firing on all cylinders as if nothing happened in the near future. The key to this process is ensuring that the player is given the recovery time that they need.
As much as we all want to see what Sid can do, it’s ultimately not about the fans, or the Penguins or hockey. It’s about when Sid is fully capable of being himself once again.
Stay patient, Ray. If that means waiting another season, you won’t regret it.