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SC 2011 Year In Review: Crosby's short-lived return

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TSN.ca Staff
12/14/2011 12:01:29 PM
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On Christmas Eve at 8pm et/5pm pt, TSN will air its annual Sportscentre Year in Review show, which counts down the top sports stories of the 2011.

Every day between now and December 24, we will discuss one of the candidates for top story of the year on SportsCentre, TSN radio and through live chats with fans every day at Noon et/9am pt here on TSN.ca.

Today, That's Hockey 2Nite's Steve Kouleas talked about Sidney Crosby's concussion and short-lived return.

It all seemed so innocuous at the time.

As the horn sounded to end the second period of the 2011 Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals, Sidney Crosby was doubled over gliding towards the bench.

Replays would show a collision between Crosby - who was facing backward but looking up the ice at the play - and Capitals forward David Steckel who as he turned to skate up the ice after the puck, made shoulder to head contact with the Penguins captain.

Though shaken, Crosby returned and played the third period of the 3-1 defeat to the Capitals and answered only one post game question about the hit.
Four days later, in a January 5th blowout victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Crosby was hit from behind into the boards by defenceman Victor Hedman and was slow to regain his feet after the contact.

Once again, Crosby finished the game and it wasn't until two days later in Montreal that Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma gave the first indication something could be wrong with his superstar forward.

"Sidney (Crosby) has a mild concussion," said Bylsma prior to facing the Montreal Canadiens. "He's got to be symptom free, but I would say about a week."

With many questions surrounding when he was injured and how severe his prognosis was, Crosby addressed the media for the first time two days after missing the game in Montreal. 

"It's one of those things where everyone heals and reacts differently," Crosby said in regards to when he expected to return to the ice. "It's just one of those things you have to wait out. It's not as easy as a break or something where they really give you a time frame."

That time frame lasted almost the entire calendar year, as Crosby missed the second half of the regular season, the playoffs, and the first quarter of the 2011-12 season.

And finally the date everyone was waiting for would arrive. The Penguins announced that Crosby would play his first game of the season against the New York Islanders on Nov. 21 - 10 months after being sidelined with that first concussion.

And what a return it was.

Five minutes into the first period of his season debut, Crosby broke in on the right wing and lifted a sharp backhand past Islanders goaltender Anders Nilsson for his first goal since December of last year.

If he stopped there it would have been a great return but he wasn't going to be satisfied till he turned into a night for the ages. Before the first period was over he assisted on the Penguins second goal and added another assist in the middle frame for his third point. In the third period he made his return complete by scoring the final goal in a 5-0 romp.

By the time his first week back in the league was over, Crosby had added five more assists and held a plus-seven rating. And he was named the NHL's first star of the week.

But the story would take one more twist before the end of 2011. Following a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, it was once again announced that the Penguins captain would miss playing time with a recurrence of concussion-like symptoms. 

There's no timetable for him to return and no indication of the number of games he'll miss, but for many fans and pundits, the uncertainty that plagued Crosby following the first week of 2011 has returned to once again.

Sidney Crosby (Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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