Sidney Crosby made his hotly anticipated return to the NHL Monday night, netting two goals and adding two assists in a game that is sure to go down as one of the biggest in Crosby lore when all is said and done.
Crosby had been out for nearly eleven months with concussion symptoms following two hits in early January--one from David Steckel, then of the Washington Capitals, in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 and one a few days later from Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.
Not only did Sid the Kid rack up those four points in the Penguins 5-0 shellacking of the New York Islanders, he also took a hit and was able to shake it off. According to the New York Times, he took a cross-check and a bump into the boards in the first period.
I was mad at myself for putting myself in that position, Crosby said to the Times. But once you get on the bench and realize everything good, that's always a good feeling. There's going to be more hits and probably harder ones, and to know I got out of those ones O.K., I think it gave me some reassurance.
Crosby's electric first game combined with the high level of play from the Penguins even before No. 87 laced em up has the hockey world buzzing with the possibility that the Penguins have established themselves as the team to beat.
This was the culmination of a months long Sidney Watch, as the league and its fans have waited for the most marketable and possibly the best player in the game to get back on the ice. Crosby's absence sparked a debate about headshots, and some have credited his injury with forcing the NHL to pass legislation punishing intentional contact with another player's head.