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Sidney Crosby: Why a Healthy Sid Will Reclaim His Title as Best in the NHL

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  (L-R) Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins arrive for the NHLPA press conference at Marriott Marquis Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2012

It has been a long time since the NHL has seen Sidney Crosby at his best.

If and when the current labor dispute comes to an end, it shouldn't take much longer for Crosby to regain his title as the best player in the National Hockey League.

After concussion-related issues (source: ESPN.com) have prevented him from taking the ice very often since the Penguins' appearance in the 2011 Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals and a subsequent game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Crosby is reportedly in excellent health and ready to go at it full speed when training camp does open (source: SportingNews.com).

Crosby played the final weeks of the 2011-12 regular season and was on the ice throughout the Penguins' first-round playoff loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

He did not suffer any reported setbacks during that run.

Crosby may be even more anxious and edgy about the current work stoppage in the league. Since he has missed so much time and he hasn't had a full season of competition since 2009-10, Crosby simply wants to get back on the ice and back to playing at the standard that he set as a rookie in the 2005-06 season.

He was celebrated as the best rookie to come into the league in years when the Penguins drafted him in 2005 and he quickly lived up to the hype. He scored 102 points as a rookie, with 16 power-play goals and five game-winners.

Crosby took charge in his first season the way few other players have been able to do.

He exceeded the 100-point mark in four of his first five seasons. He scored 120 points as a 19-year-old and a career-high 51 goals in the 2009-10 season.

Crosby may not have the numbers that all-time greats Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux had, but he is probably right behind those two as far as being a game-controlling offensive force.

Crosby has explosive physical skills as a skater, passer and shooter, but it's his ability to see the ice, hold on to the puck for an extra split second and let the play open up before dropping the pass or taking the shot that allows him to stand out.

There are other players who may be close to him in terms of physical ability—including teammate Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers—but the competitive juices and desire to do better each time allow Crosby to surpass the other players.

"You look for ways to be motivated," Crosby told NHL.com last season. "Sometimes they just kind of happen. For me, after going through this, I want to get back to where I was last season. I know it's going to take time."

At this point, Crosby is like a caged tiger. He has only played 28 games since taking concussive hits against Washington and Tampa Bay early in 2011.

He wants to get back on the ice and take his rightful place as the best player in hockey.

If only Gary Bettman and the owners would give him the chance.

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