Sidney Crosby is back on the ice for the 1st time in over two months. Crosby practiced in full equipment for roughly 15 minutes before the Pittsburgh Penguins took the ice for practice on Monday. Crosby suffered a severe concussion against the Lightning. He suffered the concussion in the game that followed the Winter Classic, where a collision with David Steckel likely caused an initial head injury.
He has not been back on the ice since, and Monday is a huge step towards his return. Crosby told the team’s website that “[he feels] good” but “it’s just part of progress and trying to get better”.
Crosby didn’t sound very hopeful about his recovery this week. “I may not feel great this afternoon and not be able to skate” Crosby added. “The only reason I was able to skate today is because I’ve had some good days… That doesn’t mean there are any guarantees… That doesn’t mean that when I exert myself that I won’t have symptoms”. He plans to “just see how things go”.
Penguins fans should not hope for Crosby’s return in the coming days, but things are certainly looking up. The Penguins have surged to within three points of the struggling Flyers for first in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division. The Pens proved they can handle themselves without Crosby, and will be a tough out in the playoffs. If the league’s most prolific scorer returns in time for the playoffs, the Penguins seem poised for another Cup run.
The Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin for the rest of the season after he tore his ACL and MCL. The possibility of regaining one of their scorers could make the Penguins an elite team again. Crosby was the leading scorer in the NHL when he was injured. After two months of not playing, he still ranks 11th in scoring and sixth in goals. He has 32 goals and 34 assists in just 41 games. Stamkos leads the league with 43 goals in 69 games, and Daniel Sedin has 89 points in 70. Crosby was on pace to be well ahead of both players before his injury.
Crosby’s injury has drawn attention to the seriousness of concussions in the NHL. Discussions of rule changes are being entertained and proper protocol for blows to the head will be established soon. Another issue Crosby’s concussion brought to light was the way concussions are handled around the league. Crosby did not display obvious symptoms after a frightening head-first collision with David Steckel in the Winter Classic. However, Crosby was not evaluated properly and allowed to play days later against Tampa Bay. During a blowout, Crosby likely aggravated a concussion, and has been sidelined since. Better awareness and more effective detection by trainers can prevent such devastating injuries in the future.
Hopefully, Crosby’s injury will bring positive changes to the way the NHL deals with concussions.