On Monday, as the NHL general managers had a lengthy discussion about how to prevent concussions, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby skated for the first time since suffering his in the first days of January.
That's great news, as there has been doubt that Crosby would return this year, as well as rumors that he might be forced to retire. While there is no timetable set for a return to hockey, Penguin fans should feel good about Crosby skating. On Monday, Crosby took a 15-minute skate, and said that he felt fine after it.
Now it wasn't a practice, just a skate, but it still shows very promising signs to come. Penguins general manager Ray Shero said, "I knew the last few days that he had been feeling much better. I knew he was starting to get back on the (stationary) bike. That, to me, was important." Shero also said Crosby has been shooting the puck in a room in the arena.
If Crosby can return to the lineup before the playoffs, it would give him time to adjust to game speed and get some much needed chemistry with his teammates, including the two new wingers in James Neal and Alexie Kovalev.
I expect Crosby to skate with Neal and Kovalev when he comes back, and I think that line will be a force to be reckoned with. I would then keep Jordan Staal with Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke, and have Mark Letestu with Chris Kunitzand and Pascal Dupuis
Before his concussion on January 6, Crosby was having his best year statistically and still remains in the top 10 in most offensive categories. Crosby was having one of the best seasons in the last decade of the NHL, which included a 25-game point streak.
Crosby suffered his concussion in the Winter Classic when he was struck in the head by David Steckel—then of the Washington Capitals—and was again hit into the boards by Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Despite not having Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup for over the last month, the Penguins remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. I don't think the Pens get past the second round without Crosby. However, if he is able to come back 100 percent, then there is no reason why this team can't go all the way and win a Stanley Cup.