Finally: Sidney Crosby set to return for Penguins Thursday night

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Sidney Crosby in a Penguins jersey on television. He returned to the lineup temporarily in November in a masterful performance (two goals, two assists) against the New York Islanders. Unfortunately, the excitement was short lived — Crosby began to experience concussion symptoms again, and thus began again an extended hiatus and medical treatments. The Penguins, their fans, and fans of hockey have been waiting for his return for a while now, and they’ll be rewarded Thursday evening when he returns against the New York Rangers.

It’s always a dodgy thing when someone returns from concussion for the first time. There’re questions regarding if players’ll play scared when they do, that they’ll play without that edge. Crosby’s competitive edge is very sharp, but he’s also one of the most valuable players in the game, let alone on the Pittsburgh Penguins. He and the team didn’t rush back, and there was no reason to. The Pens are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference and are on a nine-game winning streak without him; his re-introduction to the team only makes life even harder for the rest of the teams.

The issue with him coming back is always the “what if” one. What if somebody missed something again, like the doctors did with his first concussion? What if he gets hit hard against the boards? What if — and this would be regrettable but it does happen — he and his head are targeted by the other team? Everyone knows his weakness, but him being out isn’t the Penguins’ weakness. Targeting and taking out Crosby would do absolutely no good for the competition, but it would be a massive blow to the game.

People are concerned that there’s a potential for the NHL to lose it’s greatest player in a generation to its current injury epidemic, concussions. Crosby’s injury has done worlds to raise awareness of the injury, but that means very little if he follows the same path as Marc Savard. Like it or not, that worry is going to follow him for the rest of his career.

About Laura Astorian

Laura Astorian is the head editor for the SB Nation blog St. Louis Game Time and has been a Blues fan from childhood. She promises that any anti-Blackhawks bias will be left at the door. Maybe.