Pittsburgh Penguins fans were elated and then deflated by the tease on Tuesday. Now it looks like it’s coming to fruition, though: Sidney Crosby has been cleared for full contact in practices as of today, according to Alan Robinson of NHL.com.
Jeremy Roenick and others might be tired of the Crosby updates, but this is a promising sign that Crosby could be back in the near future. Here’s what Crosby told reporters after participating in that first full contact practice today.
“Yeah, it’s full contact, so it’s a good step in the right direction,” Crosby said. “It’s a big step … it’s a big one and we’ll see how things go.”
Robinson points out that the Penguins have a crowded October schedule of 13 games, so it might be difficult to test Crosby enough to prove that he’s ready to return. That’s a better problem to have than Crosby being unable to take any hits in scrimmages, though.
Speaking of injured Penguins stars, Evgeni Malkin was involved in the morning skate today, which brings optimism that he might play against the Washington Capitals tonight. That’s far from a guarantee, though, so we’ll keep our eyes open for updates.
Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?
TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:
“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”
Daly said that he’d be surprised “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”
As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.
For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.
The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.
So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?
At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”
Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.