Not since The Decision has there been so much interest in one player in a team sport until The Return.
The return of course being Sidney Crosby’s 11-month journey back to the NHL after sustaining the world’s most scrutinized concussion during the first week of January. With apologies to LeBron, news of Sid the Kid re-joining the Penguins against the N.Y. Islanders trumps James’ bolting to South Beach – at least in these parts. It’s catapulted a nothing mid-November Monday night game into the biggest hockey event of the year.
The anticipation of Crosby’s return after an 11-month absence from the game has taken on the air and importance of a Stanley Cup final. Hundreds of media have descended on the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh and will follow Crosby’s every move and utterance. Media interest in the U-S is of course modest but in hockey-mad Canada, Hockey Night In Canada has put it on its
schedule tonight, pre-empting Being Erica, so this has to be important, right?
At times like these it just can’t be easy to wear the burden of being the game’s best player and be the face of the league. Commissioner Gary Bettman will be among those relieved to see Crosby back, especially since Sid’s onetime main rival as top player, Alex Ovechkin, is in one long bummer of a funk that appears to be without end. The NHL needs Sidney back.
Along with the anticipation of Crosby’s return of course come a myriad of questions, among them:
Can he be the Crosby of old and once again become the world’s best player?
Will he able to stand-up to full body contact or will the ghosts of the Steckel and Hedman hits still haunt him?
Who will be the first to lay a thumping body check on him and how will he react?
So many questions. And you can bet the media hoardes will ask those questions, plus a few dumb ones as well in the quest to uncover every morsel of Crosby-dom.
The answers begin tonight in Pittsburgh on opening night for Sid the Comeback Kid.