Lemieux on Crosby return: “It’s going to be exciting”

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Mario Lemieux can’t help but get excited about Sidney Crosby’s impending return.

The Penguins co-owner — who, remember, played alongside Crosby during the 2005-06 season — answered some Sid-the-Kid-related queries following his statue unveiling on Wednesday.

Based on what No. 66 had to say, it sounds like the entire organization is fired up about No. 87 coming back into the fold.

“I know he’s anxious to get back. It’s been a difficult three months for him off the ice, but I think he’s turning the corner now, he’s looking a lot better,” Lemieux told NHL.com. “And I’m anxious to see him back.”

In a weird twist, Crosby (24 years old) is almost the same age Lemieux was when he first encountered health problems. After scoring a career-best 199 points in 1988-89, Lemieux only played 59 games the following year, then sat out the two-thirds of the 1990-91 season after having back surgery.

“It’s never fun to be on the sidelines, especially with Sid’s injury” Lemieux said. “It’s a little different than back surgery or hip surgery or anything else out there. You have to be patient. But I think he’s getting better, he’s getting close to being back on the ice.

“And it’s going to be exciting when he gets back.”

Lemieux’s not the only one excited about getting Crosby back — Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma has already started projecting potential linemates. In the past, Crosby’s usually skated with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, but Kunitz has thrived alongside Evgeni Malkin and James Neal on the Penguins’ top line. Some think the trio should be reunited, while others think Steve Sullivan should take Kunitz’s place and get the chance to play with Crosby.

Bylsma admitted to thinking about it, but said no decisions had been made.

“I think it’s natural to have thought long before (Tuesday) about where Sidney would play and what line he would play on,” Bylsma said. “There’s certainly a lot of thought been given to that — had conversations with Sidney about that, as well. When we have a time where he’s going to be getting back, we’ll have a better idea.”