Twitter chatter picked up yesterday about the status of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby, pointedly absent and silent during the off-season, as teams prepare to go to training camp.
The word “retired” appeared at least once as I scrolled past.
“No way,” I said aloud, to no one. “No. Way.” I may have gotten a little chill, I admit it.
I don’t like Sidney Crosby, as I am contractually required not to as a card-carrying member of the Washington Capitals Irrational Penguins Hate Club. I hate his commercials where he hits pucks into garbage cans or whatever in his mom’s basement. I don’t care for his attitude, about which I know nothing, really. Small detail. I don’t call him names (I really don’t) because that’s just not my bag, but I dislike him in the way one can only irrationally dislike a star player on a rival team. This is America, man. I don’t need a reason.
However, I’m not interested in any guy going out of his game at the age of 24 due to brain injury, or even having a brain injury. Yes, I’ve watched the hits over and over that got him in this situation. No, I don’t think the Winter Classic hit from Dave Steckel was dirty. Yes, I think Victor Hedman should have gotten more than two minutes for checking in the hit a few days later in Tampa Bay, which I believe in my uneducated, unscientific brain is really what got him into this mess in the first place. It really makes no nevermind to me what caused it, at this point. I just know that a career-ending injury would be devastating for him, the city of Pittsburgh (where I have friends with whom I like to keep my rivalries friendly) and, really, the NHL. The league and the fans benefit from having gifted players on the ice, and that’s the kind of hockey I like to watch.
Also, Canada. I like some Canadians, and he won them that medal that I didn’t begrudge them in the slightest. And although I fully plan to celebrate a Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup win when it happens, I don’t want to hear that it happened because Sid wasn’t on the ice.
I have a lot of feelings about this, apparently.
So when I finally caught up with the Sidney Crosby news tonight, it appeared that there was no news. This didn’t stop the Sid alarms from going off all over the hockey web, but mostly it was defensive press release-y kinds of stuff. I could find no more mentions of the r-word, just a lot of “We can’t speculate” and “He’ll come back when he’s healthy” and “Hey, chump, last time I checked training camp hadn’t started. He’s working out. Go away.”
His manager Pat Brisson said Monday:
Sidney hasn’t been shut down by anyone, He has simply adjusted his summer program according to the different needs for the appropriate recovery.
Alrighty. He’s done the different things for the things for the appropriateness of the stuff and the program and the things. Quotes like this make me wish these guys would just recite the lyrics to Yankee Doodle Dandy while the reporters stare back slack-jawed, because that would at least be newsworthy, and slightly more interesting.
Anyway, Brisson gave more vague details about Crosby’s recovery, and said pretty much nothing, insinuating therefore that there was, quite simply, nothing to say. He would return when he was ready, and so far he isn’t. His primary symptoms have been headaches, but he expected him to be back on the ice when he was healthy and to play for many years.
Pens coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby has been working out, so stick that puck where you can fit it:
Sidney’s progressed nicely this summer, he’s had a long summer, he’s worked out in June and July. We’re hoping for Sidney to come back in and be ready to go for training camp. I know he’s worked out more now than he has probably the last three summers.
I’m now envisioning Sid the Kid rolling up to training camp like a beefed-up boss, with solid gold shoulder pads maybe, just for the entrance.
Concussions are serious business, and the truth is that erring on the side of caution seems better than throwing a guy out there who isn’t ready for whatever reason. And if I were a Pens fan I’d be banking on two things at this point. One, the hope that Sid gets better soon, because they love the crap out of him up there, and let’s face it, last season didn’t look so great over the long haul. And two? Play some golf, Sid. Get some spa treatments. Heal, and pop up just in time for the playoffs.
Stranger things, my hockey friends. Stranger, craftier things.
Photo: Getty, Jamie Squire