229 is a long time and a lot of events have occurred in the past 229 days. In sports, the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Mavericks, Auburn Tigers and Boston Bruins all won championships. In society, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, Tornadoes across the country and the Anthony Weiner scandal all took place. We’ve seen The University of Miami and The Ohio State Univerisity both scar their reputations forever. The tragedies of Dodgers fan Bryan Stow being beaten into a coma and the death of Rangers fan Shannon Stone as he reached for a ball and fell over the railing also took place. For Penguins fans however, the past 229 days have been a long wait. For 229 days ago, is the last time that captain Sidney Crosby was in full health.
Reports this past week came out that Crosby was still suffering headaches and symptoms of the January 1st hit he received at the hands of David Steckel. Crosby suffered what coach Dan Bylsma called a ‘minor concussion’ at the time and predicted he would be out a week or so. Although general manager Ray Shero talked to the media and tried to downplay the situation, it has to make Penguins fans nervous that over seven months later; Crosby is still feeling effects of the hit.
“I think he is happy with his progress. He’s pushed himself pretty hard, which is the good news. He’s never had to get to the point where he’s had to shut himself down or anything,” Shero told reporters on Monday.
“He continues to work out and has worked out hard during the summertime,” Shero added. “We’ll see where he is during training camp. It’s a month away, so there’s no expectation for me that he won’t be ready or will be ready. I don’t have Sept. 16 or Oct. 6 on my calendar for him. My only concern is his long-term health, keeping in mind he’s a hockey player.”
“I want him to feel good about himself. He’ll be back at some point to play hockey. We’ll see another four weeks from now when he gets back, get him evaluated, and go from there. I want to make sure that a year from now, three years from now, five years from now, that he’s still the best player in the league.”
I share the same feelings as Shero that I’m more concerned about his health as a person, but how promising does it look that he will play this year? By the time the season starts, it will be approximately nine months since the initial hit on Crosby. We’ve seen what lingering concussions have done to Eric Lindros, Pat LaFontaine and most recently, Paul Kariya. Lindros was one of the most promising players in the league with the Flyers, but was never the same player after the concussions. LaFontaine and Kariya were both forced to retire and brain damage has already come up in tests on Kariya.
The Penguins had a terrific season last year with Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal all on the shelf for half the season, but it isn’t realistic to expect the same again this year if Crosby can’t play. Sure a healthy Malkin would help especially if he returned to his 2009 form, but when the best player in the league isn’t playing and the rest of the division has improved greatly, a repeat of last year can’t be expected. Can the Penguins expect the same type of season from Tyler Kennedy or Chris Kunitz as they had last season? I don’t think it’s fair to say so.
All along, I have said that making sure Crosby is healthy is the most important thing and I still feel that way. However, after seven months, I’m starting to worry if we will ever see Crosby fully healthy and at the same level again. When #87 does finally take the ice, expect NHL fans to applaud and at the same time, hold their breath for the first check that comes Crosbys’ way.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com