Darren Dregger tweeted that Sidney Crosby is expected to travel with the Pittsburgh Penguins to Vancouver as the team prepares to open their 2011-2012 season. He also mentioned that "expecting him to play is a huge stretch."
Regardless of whether or not Crosby plays or takes contact in practices during the trip, it is a very encouraging sign for the team and their captain. While there are likely to be some twists and turns still for Sid's return, accompanying the team to the other end of the continent is sure to help start the season off as a team.
Team unity is something the Pittsburgh Penguins have excelled at in the past few seasons. I believe that starting this season with the entire compliment of players on the road is something that allows the team to feel whole after a season where they dealt with injuries over and over.
Obviously, this will not affect the team on the ice, aside from lacking the things that Crosby does. For a team that has organized road trips that include all players' fathers, though, morale is clearly something the coaching staff and front office views as important.
Another area of interest will be if Crosby has media availability during the trip since the Canadian media typically is far larger and more passionate than any non-New York American city. Add the fact that Sid does not appear in Western Canada every season and the hype level should be extremely high.
With one week to go until the games count, each bit of positive Sidney Crosby news is important. While nobody knows how long or if the positive vibes will continue, it is a far ways away from the speculation during that summer that had Crosby "shut down" possibly for good.
Nobody knows for certain where this season will take Crosby, but with patience and continued evaluation, he will prepare himself to help this team again.
It is good to see that chance improve each day and in the words of the late Bob Johnson, "It's a great day for hockey."