Sidney Crosby Heading In Right Direction

The Pittsburgh Penguins forward was once again cleared for contact but is he close to making his return?

Ed Millerby Ed Miller

Optimism is beginning to spread around the Pittsburgh Penguins’ locker room that captain Sidney Crosby might be ready to make his return before the playoffs begin next month.  The 24-year-old former MVP took part in his first full-contact practice on Tuesday, almost three months after he began to experience concussion-like symptoms following a loss to the Boston Bruins on Dec. 5.  It’s still unclear when we could see him in the Pittsburgh lineup as things can change on a daily basis.

Crosby spent more than an hour on the ice at Consol Energy Center and looked good but is still cautious about speeding up his recovery and has not given a timetable for a possible return.

“It's a good step,” Crosby said. “Hopefully, I can keep the momentum and get out there soon.  No sooner than Sunday I would say but I'm not going to sit here and put a date on it. It would be total guesswork.”

Over the last 14 months Crosby has battled headaches and motion sickness periodically, thanks to a hit to the head from Dave Steckel of the Washington Capitals during the 2011 NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field.  It took nearly 10 months for Crosby to shake the symptoms and when he returned last November against the New York Islanders, it looked like he didn’t miss a beat.  He scored two goals and went on to tally 12 points in eight games before his symptoms returned.  Then doctors discovered a previously undiagnosed soft tissue injury in his neck during a test in January.  It was just one more hurdle that he had to overcome and insists that the shots he took as a form of treatment have yielded positive results.

In Crosby’s absence, the team has turned to potential MVP candidate Evgeni Malkin, who has helped lead the Penguins on a two month hot streak that has Pittsburgh closing in on the division lead – trailing the New York Rangers by eight points.  Malkin currently leads the NHL in points with 81and his 38 goals are currently second most.  But just imagine how good the Penguins could be if Crosby was able to shake his symptoms and return without any rust.

And he’s certainly trying to get back to competing in games. 

Over the last few weeks Crosby has been pushing his limits during non-contact drills and conditioning, however nothing is the same as competing in an actual game.  Whether he makes it back into the Penguins’ lineup before the end of the season is still anyone’s guess but the fact that he is feeling better – especially with the troubles over the last 14 months – is certainly good news.