The Penguins announced that Crosby skated on his own at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Thursday. He did not play in Game Four of Pittsburgh’s playoff series against the Washington Capitals and his availability for Game Five is thus far unknown.
“He’s in the process of rehabbing,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’ll leave it at that. It’s a day-to-day process. We’re taking each day as it comes.”
Crosby was, of course, concussed after Capitals defenceman Matt Niskanen crosschecked him in the side of the head in Game Three.
Crosby’s history with concussions is well-documented and problematic. He suffered a concussion on October 7, missing a preseason contest against Columbus before appearing at a fan fest event on October 9. Four days after that, he skated alone. A day before the Penguins’ home opener against Washington, he took part in team practice.
Crosby missed the home opener and the next five games before making his debut on October 25.
While this is a road Crosby has been on a disconcerting number of times in his career, it also provides somewhat of a timeline as to his potential recovery. There is a drive for players to return early in the post-season, but doing so in the case of the Penguins superstar is not wise.
Crosby led the NHL with 44 goals in 75 regular season games and had a total of 89 points, good for a second place tie with Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane.
In the post-season, he has 11 points in eight games. In three games against the Capitals, Crosby has two goals and two assists.
He’s also familiar with concussions and with the process, which suggests that he knows what he’s doing and will be able to properly chart a course to recovery this time around. How long that recovery will take is still up in the air, but patience is integral when it comes to concussions.
Sadly, many sports fans aren’t always patient.
Crosby has already missed large chunks of his career due to concussions. And many of his concussions have come because of how he plays the game. He was driving the net hard when he got plugged by Niskanen and he’s not likely to adjust so that it doesn’t happen again. This, it would seem, is the way it is.
“I think what separates Sid from most other players is his ability and his willingness to play in the battle areas,” Sullivan said. “He has a blue collar element to his game, even though he’s an elite player. I think that’s what allows him to have the success that he’s had.”