Two night’s ago Sidney Crosby did something he hasn’t done in nearly a year… Lace up a pair of skates, throw on his captain’s sweater, and hit the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Things couldn’t have gone any better.
All Crosby did was score two goals, add two assists, and provide an “Oh, crap” moment for the rest of the NHL. Crosby is back and the Pittsburgh Penguins are that much more dangerous than they were a week ago. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
One would think that after missing almost a year thanks to a concussion and its lingering side effects, Crosby would have been a bit rusty. By all accounts he couldn’t even walk or sit in a well-lit room without getting dizzy or nauseous let alone skate or do anything hockey related. Going into Monday’s game against the Islanders no one was sure what to expect from Crosby. There was just as good a chance that Sid the Kid would hit the ice and leave after five minutes with more post concussion symptoms as there was he would light the lamp and put on a show.
Rust? Please… A little more than five minutes into the first period and Crosby was back doing what he’s always done. He broke up a play deep in the Pittsburgh zone and after receiving a centering pass at the blue line, Crosby turned on the jets, flew past three defenders, and put the puck in the back of the net with one hell of a backhanded flick of the wrist. Anders Nilsson didn’t stand a chance at stopping that puck from going in.
The Pittsburgh faithful erupted. The route and the love fest for Crosby were officially on.
The return of Sidney Crosby is important for a multitude of reasons. First off, it solidifies a Pittsburgh team that already sat atop the Eastern Conference standings and is tied for the second best record in the NHL. Now that the best player in all of hockey is back on the ice, odds are pretty good that the Penguins may be raising Lord Stanley’s Cup come June. How can anyone possibly be expected to compete with the newly reformed tandem of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? This would be like the Lakers losing Kobe for 11 months, still finding a way to be a #1 seed without him and then getting him back with enough time left in the season to reincorporate him into the grand scheme of things. Seriously, could the city of Pittsburgh get any luckier?
Second, the successful return of Sidney Crosby helps put to ease a lot of worries. After suffering set back after set back, people were beginning to question whether or not Crosby would ever return to the ice. Yes, it was just a concussion, but concussions are no laughing matter, especially in a brutally physical sport such as hockey. So many players have had careers altered, ended, or cut short thanks to head injuries *cough* Eric Lindross *cough*. We should all be thankful that it appears Crosby will be ok, barring any further set backs. It seems like he’s been in the league forever, but he’s still only 24. He has a lot of hockey left to play. It would have been a shame to have lost that.
Most importantly, the NHL has its poster child back on the ice and back in the spot light where he undoubtedly belongs. Expect a heavy onslaught of nationally televised Penguins games as the NHL tries to grab a foothold in the wake of the NBA lockout. What better way to do that then by throwing its most marketable star on TV 3 times a week? You can’t really blame them. Crosby is an exciting and dynamic player. He’s the NHL’s version of LeBron… minus the self-induced hatred. He was a child prodigy and dubbed the next great one before he hit high school. The NHL should do whatever it can to get his face on TV as much as possible. This is their chance.
So sit back and enjoy the ride hockey fans. Sid the Kid is back.
And he made sure each every single one of us knew it…