Crosby Mania Reaches New Highs (Lows?)

Today, Sidney Crosby resumed practice  after leaving the Pens on their West Coast field trip to attend a regularly scheduled doctor appointment. There wasn’t much to report. In fact, there was nothing new to report on Sid’s pending return to hockey.

However, the revelation of non-news has sent the NHL and anyone who reports NHL news into defcon 4 mode. Today, Twitter blew up with rumors, misinterpretations, twisted words , and overabundance of speculation on quite ambiguous information. Most of these reports were from reputable resources. Some of the information was face value, other people tweeted complete misinformation.

Here are some examples:

The tweet from Dave Molinari from the Post Gazette giving information from a Pens insider that if Sid played on Friday, it would be a surprise is honestly just unnecessary information, at least in my opinion. I mean, I’ll be happy if it happens because I have tickets to that game, but given Sid’s statements today, who knows if he really would play.

The tweet from the NHL and the front page story that goes with it is more unnecessary speculation that just adds more chaos to an already out of control story and barrage of rumors that have been floating around the hockey universe since March of last season.

Mark Madden, who needs to be removed from Twitter before he hurts himself, gave blatantly false information because he thinks so highly of himself that he neglected to actually read the Pens Report for the sake of trying to be right. Head Coach Dan Bylsma never stated that Neal would play with Crosby when he finally returns. He stated:

“The line combinations when we get Sidney back haven’t been decided.”

What Crosby did say following practice today was that he has no timeline for his return. If he could have played already in any game this season, he would have. Regarding the flurry of rumors that 11.11.11 is the date of his return, Crosby had this to say:

“I guess they know more than I do, because I haven’t really thought about that. I’ve thought more about just getting through this week. That’s a possibility, just like another however many games left there are. Their guess is as good as mine.”

Basically, there is nothing new to report here. Crosby has stated that he does not feel he has received enough contact in practice yet. He has taken a few bumps, but nothing significant that could be compared to a real game situation. I had a few quite interesting conversations throughout the day about Crosby taking contact and when he will return. I’d like to rehash the conclusions of these conversations here.

  • It is my personal opinion that Crosby seriously has no idea when he will return. It may be Friday. It may be next week. It may be December. He will return when he feels that he is able. This is not some sort of deliberate game of cat-and-mouse with the media to keep reports and fans alike in suspense.
  • The type of contact that Crosby seems to be seeking likely will not occur until he is in a real game. His teammates aren’t going to nail him into the boards like Dan Carcillo did to Jodi Pitkanen last week.
  • Crosby has been cleared for contact for three weeks. He says he has only taken three hits in that time (granted the Pens schedule has been completely insane in that time). My worry is that the other guys are afraid to hit him the way he expects to be hit to test his ability to sustain contact in a real game. Would you want to be the guy who made Crosby regress? Most likely, not.
  • Because he had pretty much a double concussion in a short time span, Crosby is never going to be 100% back to normal. Once you have a concussion, you are easily susceptible to more and there is no way to predict if and when symptoms return. It may be a game, it may be because he stops abruptly in his car and pitches forward quickly. Sid may be harboring unrealistic expectations for what kind of contact he will experience in a practice setting.

Regarding the lines, James Neal has amazing chemistry with Evgeni Malkin and Steve Sullivan. Sid has great chemistry with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. However, Neal is one of our top forwards and leads the team in scoring this season. He came to Pittsburgh after playing alongside Brad Richards, one of the best centers in the NHL. Playing with Crosby may help Neal become a 30 or even 40 goal scorer. There is also the issue of Tyler Kennedy’s pending return. Bylsma has stated that TK looks great with Malkin and Sullivan (as he did at training camp), but he also looks great along side Sid. This could change from game to game. Sometimes things just don’t work for a given line on a particular night.

People are battling over who James Neal will play with. The coaching staff is going to place Neal wherever he performs best. It may be with Crosby, it may be with Malkin. Having a full roster of healthy forwards this early in the season will give the Pens an opportunity to play with the lines. It is unrealistic to expect that Bylsma will immediately pick lines upon Crosby and Kennedy’s returns and stick with them. It would be far more advantageous to the Pens to play with these lines for awhile and find the magic combinations. I’d be shocked if they didn’t play around with the lines for at least a few games. I think what we will see are different combinations. Sullivan surely deserves a shot to play along side Crosby as well to see what he can do.

I think Crosby Watch needs to take a serious chill pill. He’ll be back. Creating more information out of non-information is getting old and tiresome.

Note: Thank you to Allie and Laura Falcon for the great conversations today and for your input that made it into this post! We all seem to be on the same page with Crosby.

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One response to “Crosby Mania Reaches New Highs (Lows?)

  1. Great read! I missed that NHL tweet (timezones / work) and couldn’t believe it, when I saw it here. How could they do that? Some people try to fire up things on Sid’s expense – even some people who really shouldn’t.

    I can also see the problem of Sid getting hit hard enough in traning. Probably we should hire some guys from the Caps or the Flyers to do it ;)? Just kidding. I think in the end it must be an “out of the gutt” decision by Sid alone. No training, no medication, no treatment can protect him and he needs to live with it – sad enough. I wish him the inner strength and energy to wake up one morning (after he got the GO from his docs of course) and feeling the “Let’s do it!”
    And I am sure the day will come, because Sid loves playing hockey, but it will be very likely not this Friday.

    As for crosbywatch – I of course understand it. I want Sid back, too. I want to come to Pittsburgh early next year and see Sid and Geno and James Neal and Jordan Staal and TK and Kris Letang and Flower and and and …. all on the ice being my boys – the bestest best, but please … don’t freak out and keep my Twitter timeline clean.

    LET’S GO PENS!

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