It's the best time of year!
While I was watching Marc Savard’s press conference yesterday, I pondered whether we would ever see the Bruins playmaker play again. Savard, as you know, has been shut down for the remainder of the season with his second concussion in less a full calendar year. A solid career has seemingly been diminished and/or cut short by injury.
Somewhere, the Penguins and Sidney Crosby need to be watching.
It has been over a month since Crosby played hockey, let alone skated. As of right now, there is no timetable for his return as he is limited to ‘light workouts’. There have been reports that the team is hoping that he is back by March; the key word there is ‘hoping’.
If Crosby cannot return at the earliest until March, what kind of player will Pittsburgh actually have in the lineup for the stretch run? The guy who tallied 32 goals and 66 points in 41 games, or someone that is a shell of what he is supposed to be? Would he be rusty going into the postseason? There’s simply no guarantee.
This concussion has put a knife in what was looking to be one of the best seasons in recent memory. No. 87 was on pace for 64 goals and 132 points... ridiculous numbers in today's NHL.
Without him in the lineup, along with Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins are a completely different team. Not having either of them come April would eliminate any chances the team has to win the Stanley Cup, even if GM Ray Shero made a splash before the trade deadline.
That said, the team must think of the long-term when it comes to Crosby. He isn’t only the face of the franchise, but also the entire NHL. Is it worth it for him to comeback for the stretch run and playoffs to help his team, or should he aim for being 100-percent healthy going into next season? Sid is a once-in-a-generation player.
Savard admittedly came back early for the Bruins’ second round series with Philadelphia last spring. That decision seemed to be costly as he suffered from post-concussion syndrome well into this season.
The style of play around the league today doesn’t help Crosby either. Some superstars in the past (i.e. Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky) were seldomly touched by the opposition. No one messed with them. That’s not the case with Crosby, who gets hit and roughed up as much as any other star currently in the league.
If he comes back in March, he’d be prone to getting another concussion with some of the abuse he takes night-to-night. (And that's not to say that, from now on in his career (not just later this season), any hit has a slightly more risk of giving him another one.)
If Crosby is absolutely 100 percent and symptom-free a month from now, then the team will definitely put him back in the lineup, and they should. But if the symptoms linger into March and put the rest of his season in doubt, I think the Pens have to seriously think about pulling a page out of Boston’s book and shutting Crosby down.
I’m not saying the Pens need to shut him down today; we’re a long way off from knowing exactly when he can indeed come back, so it’s all speculation at this point. And I’m sure they are taking every precaution to make sure they don’t bring him back prematurely.
I do know one thing, though: I’d hate to see Crosby sometime down the line, sitting at a podium for a possible pre-retirement press conference, because of concussions – like Savard was yesterday.
Photo credit: Getty Images
at 12:30 PM
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