Sidney Crosby

Top 2012: Not one, but two Sidney Crosby comebacks


When Sidney Crosby went on the shelf in early January 2011, few expected him to need until late November to return. The Pittsburgh Penguins star was worth the wait, though, as he made a bombastic return – and then did it again after another setback.

Let’s reminisce about his triumphant comeback(s) from concussions.

Echoing Mario

Crosby’s four-point reemergence against the New York Islanders on Nov. 21 reminded many of Mario Lemieux’s triumphant comeback in 2000.

One of Crosby’s four points came on his first shot – and second shift – against the Isles:

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Crosby indeed left Pierre McGuire and Jeremy Roenick flabbergasted after that memorable night:

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Overall, Crosby produced two goals and 10 assists in an eight-game span that ended with a Dec. 5 game against the Boston Bruins when his concussion issues resurfaced after a collision with David Krejci. Crosby eventually returned to the injured reserve on Dec. 12.

Another comeback

Kris Letang accompanied Crosby off the injured list on March 15 as the Penguins beat the New York Rangers 5-2. Amazingly, that victory pushed Pittsburgh’s streak to 10 straight wins.

For a while, Crosby was piling up far more assists than goals, but that didn’t stop him from becoming the seventh-youngest player to hit the 600-point mark on March 30.

Sid the Kid’s second regular season set of games was truly impressive; he scored six goals and 19 assists in 25 games to finish the season. Overall, he had eight goals and 29 assists for 37 points in just 22 regular season games.

A wild (and ugly) postseason

Crosby’s production in a 4-2 series loss to the Philadelphia Flyers was just fine, particularly on paper. He had eight points – all in the first four contests.

Still, to many, that series was all about Claude Giroux getting the upper hand, with this hit saying the most:

Those matches often brought out the dark side of Crosby and the Penguins. Here’s some video evidence:

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(There’s also the claim that Crosby’s slashes forced Giroux to undergo surgery. Crosby sort of denied that.)


Overall, Crosby has shown that he can return with aplomb. Just imagine how he’ll react to coming back from a lockout, not injuries …

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado