What may have seemed like a typical Monday became a cause for celebration for the Pittsburgh Penguins organization and fans. Captain Sidney Crosby took the ice again for the first time since being diagnosed with a concussion on January 6.
Afterwards, he spoke with the media regarding his skate, as well as other topics.
Here are some of the most interesting parts of Crosby's answers.
(Full Q&A can be found here. All quotes are courtesy of the Pittsburgh Penguins' website.)
Before getting into the rest of the article, I would just like to express how happy I am for Crosby, his family, his teammates and the entire Penguins' organization.
It has been a long journey for Crosby to this point and he still has a long road ahead of him. This is great news and a big step toward full recovery. I wish him all the best. I hope that he can return to great health and play before the end of the season, to finish out what was the start to a fantastic season.
I think most people can agree with that, regardless of their loyalties.
The media Q&A started with an update on how Crosby feels and when he thinks he will be able to return.
Crosby said he's been symptom-free for the past few days, including after some time on an exercise bike. Since he was symptom-free, doctors cleared him to try a light skate and he did so today.
Crosby is not getting too far ahead though, he mentioned that symptoms tended to manifest later in the day so he is waiting to see how he feels later today and the next few after skating this morning.
The most interesting answer came when asked when he thought he would return.
"I have no clue. I’m not thinking too far ahead as far as a time frame. I just want to get better."
When he was first out with the injury and talking to the media about it, Crosby seemed hopeful and positive. Now, he just seems unsure. Understandable with all he's been through, but also telling of the impact that the injury has had on his psyche.
Crosby was asked how far away he thinks he is from being in shape to return.
"That’s impossible. Today is progress, but I’m nowhere close to where I need to be as far as being in shape. I’m not even going to talk about that, I just want to be able to get through that without getting a headache, let alone worrying about where my conditioning is at. That’s a whole new level."
It's good that Crosby isn't getting too far ahead of himself and is trying to bring the media back to reality with him.
It's an interesting point that was brought up though. Even if Crosby can get through the day remaining symptom-free and resume regular skating, he hasn't played in over two months. He hasn't been able to work out, except on a bike.
I'm nowhere near an expert on training, but I would think he would need significant time to get back into playing shape, especially since the games are harder, going into the playoffs.
Since Crosby has been out, many well-known figures have told the media that they have reached out to Crosby.
Crosby has seemed reluctant to speak to others, knowing that everyone has different reactions to concussions, as he has said.
However, when asked who he has reached out to in today's interview, Crosby mentioned speaking with Jordan Leopold when the Buffalo Sabres were in town.
Leopold was, of course, Crosby's teammate last year on the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suffered from a concussion while there, after taking a very hard hit and then hitting the ice.
A lot of people probably expected the Pittsburgh Penguins to fall apart without their two top stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They haven't, so far. The team has maintained strong position in the Eastern Conference, only trailing top team and Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia Flyers by three points.
Crosby was asked what he thought of the team's play and he, of course, had only praise for the team.
"It’s been pretty amazing to see the amount of character we have. I think with all the adversity we’ve had, the guys have really done an unbelievable job of just focusing on what they have to do out there. They’ve been resilient, and that’s something that says a lot about our team.
I don’t think I was surprised, but it’s pretty unique to see a group of guys and what they’ve been through have the success that they’re having. I’m happy to see that, and for me just to be able to come here every day has been good just to be around the guys. I’ve been around, but I don’t know if I’ve really been helping. I’m just happy to be around."
It is impressive that the team has held themselves together, even after losing their top two stars. How many other teams could really say the same?
Even without Crosby and Malkin, that resiliency makes the Penguins a dangerous team going into the playoffs.
It was to be expected that Sidney Crosby himself would eventually address the retirement rumor that came out over the weekend. Bob McCown, of Toronto's Fan590 radio, reported that Crosby's family was trying to get him to retire, for fear that he would further risk his health if he continued playing.
Crosby's agent, Pat Brisson, as well as his father, Troy, vehemently denied that rumor. Crosby did as well, today, when asked for his comment.
When asked if he had ever considered retirement, Crosby concisely said "No." He was then asked about the effect the rumors had.
"It’s to be expected. It’s probably harder for them [his family] than me. They hear it a lot more than I do. I don’t really pay attention to most of it. I’m probably used to it a little more than they are.
It’s something that kind of comes with the territory, but I don’t think it’s ever surprising, but it’s definitely interesting to see what can be said and rumors and things like that. I don’t know where people even begin to get that kind of stuff, but it’s probably a little scary, actually, when you think about it."
It would have been interesting to hear Crosby elaborate more on the "scary" aspect of it: scary that there would be retirement talk for someone his age or scary that people just make stuff up and the public believes it?
The NHL GMs are meeting in Florida this week for their annual meeting. Obviously, a big topic to be discussed will be regarding headshots and how to eliminate them.
Crosby was asked for his opinion on the matter, if he thinks that headshots need to be eliminated. Crosby has clearly thought long and hard about this, as evidenced by his lengthy response. Here's a portion of what he had to say.
"That’s a great question. I mean, I’d like to say yes, but it’s more than just saying that. There’s got to be obviously some clarity and everything’s got to be looked at as far as how you do that... But as far as deliberate head shots, yeah. You’re not going to lose anything from the game if you take that away. I mean, if a guy has enough time to line someone up, then he’s got enough time to decide whether he can hit him in the head or not. I think that’s pretty realistic.
But it’s whether or not it’s intentional, sometimes that’s tough to really know when you’re talking about a fast game like hockey. So that’s something they have to discuss. The easy answer is yes, but it’s just finding out how to do it the right way so that you still have that physical element but at the same time, guys are a little bit safer too."
Crosby's answer highlights the dilemma that the league and the GMs face. Hockey is a physical game, how can you ensure the safety of players without taking away an essential element of the game?
I do believe though, that Crosby is right about deliberate headshots. Those could easily be avoided and should definitely be banned. Other than that, that's something that the GMs will have to determine how to go about making the game safer.