Pittsburgh Penguins: What the News Means for Sidney Crosby's Return

Michael SchoeffelContributor IIISeptember 9, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Consol Energy Center on December 8, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Penguins defeated the Maple Leafs 5-2.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

As most of the articles on this website have already acknowledged, Sidney Crosby's press conference today really didn't touch on much new ground. The Penguins organization basically reiterated what they said on August 24—that Crosby would make a full recovery in due time.   

That being said, I don't think it was the complete waste of time that some people are making it out to be. 

One thing I think the press conference accomplished was assuring the public that the Penguins were not playing a game of smoke and mirrors. That they were not, in fact, feeding the media half-truths or full lies about Sid's health to keep the hounds at bay. 

By bringing Crosby, GM Ray Shero, and two neurological specialists on stage and into the public eye, the Penguins were basically saying: "Here we are, we have nothing to hide, and here are the facts. Yes, Sidney is still injured. But he truly is getting better. Here is where he was a few months ago, and this is where he is now."

To quote Dr. Michael (Micky) Collins, Director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, from today's press conference:

"I first saw Sid on Jan. 6. At that time, I became involved in Sid’s care. When I saw Sid, he was having very consistent symptoms, consistent with a significant cerebral concussion. He was foggy...It feels like you’re one step behind yourself. It feels like you’re in slow motion. He had headaches. He had fogginess. He had difficulties with fatigue. He had light sensitivity. He had noise sensitivity. He had a hard time thinking."

"So the first time I saw Sid, I knew we were in for the long run with this injury. And quite frankly, I wasn’t, nor am I now, surprised that it’s taken this long for Sid to start improving. And yes, we are seeing significant improvements recently...At this point in time – Tuesday– I assessed Sid. I hadn’t assessed him for a while. I was able to assess him and do the testing that we do, and I can tell you that his data is the best we’ve seen. It is approaching normal limits.  I’m very pleased with where he’s at right now from an activity standpoint.

Putting a face to the concussion specialists helped smooth things out a bit, at least for me.  Before today, the media was getting reports from the doctors only via members of the Penguins organization, such as Ray Shero. To my knowledge, the media did not have a single first person quote from any of the doctors since Crosby's rehabilitation began. 

To have the specialists come out and speak optimistic words—and deliver those words with obvious sincerity—helped me believe that Crosby really is on his way to recovery and that the whole thing was not just a mirage propagated by the Penguins organization.

Of course, as we all kind of already knew, Crosby is still quite a ways away from returning to the ice.  When addressing the question of introducing Crosby to contact, Collins made it clear that they "weren't even close to that right now." How close is "not even close?" Nobody knows. When asked if Crosby would be ready for opening day, Collins admitted that he had "no idea." 

So while this might not exactly be "Christmas Day" for Crosby and his fans (even though Dr. Carrick suggested as much), it is cause for minor celebration. Sid isn't retiring, he's on his way to recovery and it seems possible, maybe even probable, that he will return to the ice at some point this season.

But stay tuned. If we've learned anything from this ordeal it's that things can change from week-to-week, even day-to-day. All we can really do it wait and pray to the hockey Gods.