Sidney Crosby is going to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins again. If you have come to this article looking for wild speculation that he will "hang 'em up" before he tries to play again, please move along. You will not find it here.
While recent news is not very positive, Sid will wait it out as long as necessary to return to the ice for his team. His dedication to the team is still unquestioned.
What is in question is the longer-term picture. Playing the "what if" game always leads to more questions than answers, but considering that Sid's medical team spent a long time in the late summer telling us that his brain would be better than ever upon his return, I can certainly forgive anyone who has doubts that there will be a happy ending to the saga.
But, it is important to remember that for every negative "what if" scenario you can come up with, there is the same chance a positive outcome will be gained.
Regardless of the outcome though, if he has not already, it is time for Crosby to give serious consideration to retirement, not for tomorrow, but just his plan in general.
For example, if concussion problems linger, is Sid comfortable with repeating this arduous comeback process over and over? Perhaps he will be.
This may not be an easy thing for him to think about. Considering that he is one of the premier athletes in his sport, the thought of not being around or mere mortality probably do not cross his mind very often.
Sadly, the way that most people eventually have to think about life insurance or writing a will, Sidney Crosby has to at least give thought to what his retirement plan will be. Even if he decides that, in the event it is necessary, he will continually work to comeback as many times as it takes.
The decision rests solely with Crosby. His family and doctors may be able to provide advice, but such a decision can only be made by him. Only Crosby knows what risks he is willing to take with his long-term health.
His long-term health (not his teammates, teams or anything else) should be the reason that the "R" word enters the private discussions with the team of physicians. While there is still so much to learn about long-term ramifications to concussive hits, there is no shortage of players from the NHL or NFL that can give Sid perspective if he wants it.
Eric Lindros would surely have a chat with him. Marc Savard too. Former NFL player Merril Hoge has ties to Pittsburgh, his descriptions of lingering symptoms long after he last took a snap is as good a reason as any to at least let the consideration of when to retire enter in to the picture.
As a Penguins season ticket holder, I am still quite comfortable with Crosby taking as long as it takes to get back on the ice. If that means another long chunk of time missed, so be it.
It also occurs to me that there may, at some point, be a premature end to Crosby's career. While that would sadden Penguins fans greatly, the bigger tragedy would be for this man who has brought us much joy to suffer long-term health consequences.