by pcoffey on 11/22/11 at 02:45 AM ET
Sidney Crosby has enjoyed better games, but none were more important than Monday’s 5-0 win over the New York Islanders.
Back in the lineup for the first time in 10 months, Crosby scored twice and assisted on two more goals in his first game back from a concussion suffered last season. No doubt it was a triumphant return. But now Crosby faces the daunting task of getting ready to do it again, remaining healthy and returning to the rarified air atop the hockey talent pool.
“I expect to be back there eventually,” Crosby told Sam Kasan of the team’s web site before the game. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take. I think the main thing is to get more and more comfortable each game. If I do that then I think I can get back there.”
But those issues will be addressed in the days to come. Monday night, Crosby, the Pens and their fans got to enjoy it all again.
“I don’t really have good words for it,” coach Dan Bylsma told reporters afterward. “That was a special in a lot of ways.”
Indeed. In a lot of ways, Crosby put questions about his return to rest. But as those who watched Pat LaFontaine and others in the past, one excellent game back from a concussion can give way to the stark reality of the injury’s debilitating nature the next.
Crosby has worked diligently to get back in fighting trim, but he too has learned the capricious nature of concussions. A couple of great days often are followed by life in a cloud. Light becomes your enemy.
Sound gnaws at your nerves. Even the mandatory rest periods seem to eat away at a young athlete in the prime of his career. And let’s not forget having people singing in a seemingly neverending chorus “When are you coming back?”
Crosby was able to answer that one question Monday night.
“The goals and assists were great obviously, but just being back out there I can’t really even describe it,” Crosby said after the game. “It was exciting. I was anxious. There were a lot of different things going through my mind. The main thing was to enjoy playing. That’s something that I’ve missed over the last 10 months.
“I’ll have a great memory of this one for a lot of different reasons.
That was a pretty fun one to be a part of.”
It was a game for Crosby to cherish after all the time away and the efforts he made to get back on the ice. But he also knows that now, the real tests remain.
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About Iced Coffey
Phil Coffey has covered the NHL since 1981, most recently as the Senior Editorial Director of NHL.com. He spent over 11 years there.