Pittsburgh Penguins writer Sam Kasan and Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have both reported the news out of Pittsburgh today: Sidney Crosby is once again cleared for contact and could play as soon Sunday.

Crosby missed 20 games to start the season before making his debut against the New York Islanders on November 21st, where he came out like a house on fire. He tallied two goals and two assists for four points, and followed that up by playing in seven straight games, racking up eight more points before an awkward run-in with David Krejci put him on the shelf again.

This time (and maybe all along) the problem was his neck – their was some damage to the C1 and C2 vertabrae, and he was experiencing concussion-like symptoms.

He’s missed 38 games since then, and an odd thing has begun to happen – some of us have started getting used to the NHL minus Crosby, and that’s just awful. He’s one of the most exciting players in the game, and we’re better off with him in it.

The Penguins have fared just fine without their captain, especially of late. They have the second-most points in the Eastern Conference, and find themself in fourth (division winners get top seeds), and looking at home ice in the playoffs. They’re 8-2 in their last ten, which begs the question: how good could the Pens be with the addition of the League’s best player?

Here’s what Crosby told Kasan about his progress:

And more, from Dave Molinari:

Exciting stuff for the Penguins, and the NHL.

It’s never fun to wonder what a team could have done if they were actually healthy. Hopefully this is the last time we’ll have to wonder that about the Penguins.