The situation surrounding Sidney Crosby and his concussion issues has been well documented as it has become a story campaigning for change in the NHL. Gone are the days when enforcers like Scott Stevens, Tie Domi or Clark Gillies patrolled the ice waiting to lay a brutal check on an unsuspecting player. The days of the enforcer are over primarily because of the rule changes the NHL has imposed that make it illegal to target the head of an opponent as well as various stipulations that punish players for checks that are often clean but seismic, making them dirty and often deeming punishment. The Sidney Crosby story has become a prime example that the league is still physical and that perhaps some rules may need to be adjusted for the sake of player safety, but at the same time any rule changes may well change the foundations of hockey that fans have come to love.
Protecting a coveted star is undoubtedly in everyone’s best interest, but is there not a sense of risk when one commits to being a professional athlete? I’m not advocating that a player should risk brain trauma to earn his paycheck, but as rules become stricter the game changes, and not always for the best. Talks have even begun about the possibility of banning fighting from the sport, a part of the game that many teams use as a morale boost when things are not going so well. A well-timed fight featuring two enforcers is one of the most exciting parts of a hockey game, especially in a rivalry game, and serves as a means to get the team going. Banning such fights would take away an aspect of the game that many fans find to be intricate and would only further “soften” the image of today’s athletes over those of the past. What Crosby has gone through is an absolute tragedy (having to miss over a year with a Concussion and Concussion Symptoms), but I feel like the fact that he is a superstar is making people overreact to the situation. Crosby’s injury took place on a pair of hits that after review were both deemed “legal checks” and thus means that they were more accidental than malicious. Player safety is a top priority but the physicality of hockey is something that should not be compromised without much thought as it is instilled into the very nature of the game. Teams like the Boston Bruins of last season would not have won Stanley Cups had the league not allowed a high level of physical play, because quite frankly, that’s their edge.
It was announced just a few days ago that Sidney Crosby would begin contact drills and could return to his team by this Sunday, just in time to play the Bruins. Now this is a rather interesting situation considering Crosby felt concussion symptoms after taking a number of hits the last time he played Boston on December 5th; his last game before going back on the disabled list. The Bruins are a very physical team (sometimes even a dirty team), so it’s interesting that Pittsburgh is targeting that game for Sid’s return, a questionable move in my opinion. Waiting until the following Thursday when the Penguins visit the Rangers at Madison Square Garden makes more sense considering the Rangers play a more finesse game than the Bruins, which would help ease Crosby into his return rather than just tossing him into the fire.
With Crosby’s return imminent the fantasy hockey world is about to be rattled big time, especially when you factor in how awesome teammate Evgeni Malkin has been all season without his other star. If Crosby can contribute like he did in his limited 8 game return this season (posting 2 Goals, 10 Assists), the Penguins could be a scary team coming down the stretch run of the season. The bigger question however for Pittsburgh fans and NHL fans in general is how healthy is Crosby and are his symptoms really gone? We won’t know the answer to that question until he takes the ice, but the fact that he’s been out for over a year isn’t generating confidence. However, with his return on the horizon I for one am hoping he can regain the form that had everyone thinking he was on pace to break every scoring record in the book, and then some. Crosby’s talent and injury problems show us that nobody is invincible and that every athlete should feel blessed for their health, because as talented as you are, it only takes one bad moment to turn your career in a whole new direction.
The fact that Crosby is fighting to come back, and seems ready to do so, is a testament to his will and perseverance; it shows that he wants to play hockey. It’s refreshing to see that even in today’s money hungry sports world, the love of the game still exists. This is a guy who has enough money off contracts and endorsements at age 24 to retire and live happy for a number of lifetimes, yet he’s fighting to make it back to the job he loves. It’s not about the money for him; it’s about his legacy and his image. Sidney Crosby is a once in a lifetime type of player and the league is not the same without him; believe me, the league needs him a lot more than he needs it. With Sid the Kid on pace to get in 15 games before the playoffs, we’ll get a clear indication of whether he’s the same player we’re accustomed to seeing or a mere shell of his former self. If I know anything about this guy and his heart (his cold blooded-game winning goal in the Olympics showed me all I needed to see) I’m betting he comes back to the tune of dominance, anyone betting against me?
Excited To See Crosby Back? Will He Still Be Dominate? Thoughts?