While Crosby was forced to wear a white helmet signifying his inability to take contact, it did not diminish the excitement of the Saturday and Sunday practice crowds when his group took to the ice. Most NHL fans may root against Crosby, but obviously there are few that do that here in Pittsburgh.
This brings me to the reason for writing this article, supporting Sidney Crosby. After an entire summer of endless speculation, Crosby is back on the ice and seemingly making progress in his comeback bid.
I do not consider myself a Crosby fanboy by any stretch, but I do think the injured captain could use some support from fans. There seems to be a sizable portion of people/haters that want Sid to retire.
As someone who has no connection to the team beyond being a fan, I believe those people are wrong, but I understand the anti-Crosby backlash.
He whines on the ice. Yeah, I said it. I told you I was not a fanboy.
Before he played a game in the NHL he was anointed as the "face of the NHL". For fans of other great players and teams, this too would probably be very annoying.
It probably was not a good move to have the handshake line drama after winning the Stanley Cup in Detroit. I do think that made him look bad since you should win with class and respect against a team that has more than paid their dues to leave a mark on the league.
More than anything else though, Sid gets a lot of hate because he is an excellent player, rich, successful, and maybe a little too clean-cut for a lot of people to stomach. Unless his life takes some Tiger Woods-esque turn for the worse, he will likely go down as one of the most boring athletes to play in Pittsburgh.
Not boring on the ice, mind you. Just very "PC" in his answers, probably the last person you would ever expect to be in any kind of trouble. Things like that.
That is not to say that I think the last part should be seen as bad qualities. But as I brace for the backlash that goes along with publicly saying something kind about Sidney Crosby, I feel the need to acknowledge the things that fans do not seem to like about him.
Having said all of that, despite any flaws he has (perceived or real), the NHL is not a better league when he is out. But that is not Sid's concern.
There are three reasons why I think that Sidney Crosby should not (and will not) retire, no matter where this current concussion saga takes him. Hit the slides to find them out.
From what I understand, Sidney Crosby was pretty well known in Canada at a fairly young age because of his talents as a hockey player. As things stand, if he is healthy, his name belongs among the top talents in the game without question. To deny that is foolish.
One thing I have not understood with the whole "Crosby should retire" opinion is why he would ever quit this sport without attempting to get in a game again. Recently I completed an article on some players that I (and many fans) believe to be soft.
Crosby was not on the short list I made. Again, it is not because I am a Crosby fanboy and defender. Evgeni Malkin is the player I will defend endlessly even if there is no basis for it.
The reason I did not include him is that I do not believe he is soft. Maybe I was wrong on the five players I called out, but even if I did the list over Sid would not be on it.
Mainly, the reason people want him to be on that list is because he whines. Whining and softness are two different things though.
Crosby is exceptionally passionate about the game and his approach towards it. He will not be able to stake any kind of claim to an all-time great career if he just throws in the towel.
Simply put, that is why he will not do that. Taking his time to return is the smart thing to do, but for one second I have not believed that he would just quit without lacing them up again.
For people in other cities, there may not be much opportunity to see or hear about the work that Sidney Crosby puts in. If you are a hater, you likely either do not care, or brush that aside like it does not mean a thing.
The thing that I most respect about Crosby is the dedication that he has to his conditioning and improving his game. For years it has been discussed that he is one of the hardest-working athletes to ever play in this city.
A good example of that would be his offseason following the 2008-2009 season. There was a lot of talk that a 33-goal season was not going to be good enough for the team, given its free agent losses and lack of depth at wing.
Crosby dedicated himself to refining his game and looking to be more of a scorer. In the 2009-2010 season he scored 51 goals.
Last season he played 41 games and scored 32 goals. That is not a player who is going to retire without mounting a comeback.
The third and final reason that I believe Sidney Crosby should not (and will not) retire is very simple. His teammates are what will keep Crosby working hard until he is able to play again.
Every player here has a respect for what Crosby brings to the table. Crosby is very understanding of what wearing that "C" means.
He is not going to give up on the room. Many said that it had to be driving him crazy each time that he was shut down because he is used to near-constant training and conditioning.
I think that it had to be even harder on him to not be able to help his teammates. Stars shine brightest when the night is at its darkest.
Unfortunately for Crosby, he was not able to do that for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. He will definitely be back in the lineup at some point.
What happens past that is anybody's guess. One thing I do know is that there is zero chance he would stop before he finds out what it takes to get back out there.