The question all along was never whether Sidney Crosby was ever going to come back from his serious concussion, but rather just how he would react once he did.
The early returns on his comeback were encouraging for the Pittsburgh Penguins and their franchise player. He lit up the scoreboard and took some hard hits while delivering some of his own.
Then came Wednesday’s news release from the club. It was short on words but packed quite a punch while instantly lighting up cyberspace.
Crosby is out two games, the club announced, because he didn’t feel good after taking a hit in Monday night’s game versus Boston. Crosby finished the game.
"He saw Dr. Micky Collins of UPMC today and took an ImPACT test, which showed no problems. However, we all think it's best that he sits out the next two games as a precaution,” Pens GM Ray Shero said in a release.
It’s important to note that Collins found no issues Wednesday. It’s the same approach that was taken in his return after a 10-month hiatus.
“We’re being cautious and keeping in mind he was off for a long time,’’ Shero later told ESPN.com via text message before a flight Wednesday evening. “Take a step back here and see how he feels in a few days.’’
It may well be that Crosby will be just fine after his two-game absence and not ever look back again, but everyone involved dearly hopes it’s not a sign of things to come.
There’s no way of knowing, of course. Every brain is different. Every player reacts differently to concussions. Some never look back in their recovery. Others are plagued by them and their resistance to physical contact weakened over the course of time.
Keith Primeau’s career was marred and ultimately ended by a series of concussions. He didn’t know the news on Crosby until told by ESPN.com Wednesday evening.
“Oh no, I hate hearing that,” Primeau said, his voice sinking at the other end of the phone.
Primeau has become an advocate on the subject. He was intrigued by the way the Penguins handled Crosby’s return, hoping it was paving the way for showing how to handle concussions in the future.
“And I still hope that,” said Primeau. “Hopefully it’s just two games, and this is just precautionary. To err on the side of caution is the right thing to do, especially with your franchise player. I really hope this is just a blip. But there’s just no way of knowing with the brain. There’s no way of telling short term or long term what the exact answer is. It’s not within human capabilities at this point.”
All he knows is that he hopes Crosby doesn’t go through what he did. To this day, Primeau is affected by his concussion-plagued career.
“I get through my day,” Primeau said. “I’m functional. I have headaches but I don’t’ let them get me down. I know there’s people worse off than me.”
Before hanging up, Primeau muttered again that he hopes Crosby is fine. He’s not alone in that statement.