Sidney Crosby returns to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup tonight after sitting out more than 10 months and missing 61 National Hockey League games over the past two seasons following a concussion.
Penguins captain Crosby will play for the first time since Jan. 5 when Pittsburgh hosts the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center. Comcast Corp.’s Versus network said it will broadcast the game, switching its coverage from a scheduled matchup between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.
Crosby, a 24-year-old center, sat out the Penguins’ first 20 games this season. He also missed the final 41 games of last season, when he registered 66 points in 41 games and set an NHL record for the fewest games played by a team’s leading scorer.
“There will be some time before he totally feels comfortable and back to the level that he was playing when he went on that point streak,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said on the team’s website. “Sometimes Game 1 is on adrenaline and it takes a few games for players to get that timing back and speed of the game.”
Crosby suffered post-concussion symptoms following a pair of collisions with David Steckel of the Washington Capitals on Jan. 1 and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 5.
Although Crosby was practicing with his teammates at the start of training camp this season, he wasn’t participating in contact drills or scrimmages. He was cleared for full contact practice on Oct. 13, though doctors said he wouldn’t be permitted to resume playing until he was 100 percent healthy.
‘One More Shift’
After meeting with team doctors Michael Collins and Charles Burke yesterday, Crosby was cleared to return. Bylsma said the Penguins, who have lost three of their past four games, will be monitoring Crosby’s playing time.
“We’ll see how he’s doing and his conditioning level,” Bylsma said. “When you get those guys they always want to go out for one more shift. We may have to tie him to the bench a little bit.”
Crosby rejoins a Penguins team that has an 11-6-3 record and is tied with the Philadelphia Flyers atop the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division with 25 points. The Penguins won the division last season with a 49-25-8 record and then lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Crosby was the first pick of the 2005 draft, and two years later won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player at the age of 19, the youngest to get the honor. He also scored the gold medal-winning goal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, giving Canada an overtime win over the U.S.