Just a few days before Thanksgiving, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the NHL were given something to be thankful for. After missing 10 months with concussion-like symptoms, Sidney Crosby made his return to the ice for the Pens and it took all of maybe 10 seconds to realize what they had been missing. With the stage all to himself, Crosby put on an incredible display scoring two goals and adding two assists in the Penguins’ 5-0 rout over the New York Islanders. The greats have a way of rising to the occasion even when it looks like the odds are stacked against them. Whether it’s in the playoffs, the Olympics, or his return to the ice after a 10 month layoff, Crosby has a knack for creating memorable moments. No stage is too big for the Sid the Kid and as exceptional his performance was last night, it certainly wasn’t surprising. He’s the greatest hockey player on the planet and did what the great ones tend to do when the spotlight is shining the brightest.
Dan Bylsma joined TSN 1050 in Toronto on the Mike Richards Show to talk about Sidney Crosby’s return to the ice, on the idea that Crosby makes everyone around him better, when he really felt that Crosby would be back to help his team, and what it was like in the arena with all the support for Crosby and the Penguins.
On the return of Sidney Crosby:
“I think the one and maybe his best talent that isn’t hockey skill that we can look at is ability to practice at a high level, work on his skills, but then apply that to the game. You see him with a lot of different skills. His faceoffs, his shot, but he’s been practicing at such a high level and he’s been going at such a high speed it wasn’t a real surprise to see him go out there and pull off that type of game and that type of speed in the game because we’ve been watching him be the best player at that speed in practice for the last two months.”
On the idea that he makes everyone around him better:
“That’s what you talk about when you talk about the great players, great athletes, and the great people, they make people around them better and Sidney Crosby hasn’t played with us for the first 20 games and at the end of last year but just him in practice makes our team better, makes our players around him better. He raises the level and he challenges people with his pace, his skill, and his work level. Not even playing he makes our team better and we’ll take having him on the ice as well as you can see from last night.”
When he knew that Crosby would be returning:
“Good question and I’m not sure I can pinpoint that. There were times through the summer as he was going through where you felt like he was progressing and then going into training camp early you thought he was taking another step and doing really well but we knew it was going to be a no timetable kind of thing. You kinda watch him on the ice, you see that he is doing well, and you see how he is progressing but we also knew it wasn’t going to be one week, two weeks, it wasn’t going to be on the 15th or 16th or a prescribed date. He had to go through the rehab process of getting back to playing and that was going to take as long as it needed to take to feel comfortable and to feel good and pass what the doctors felt he needed to do. Maybe about a week or two weeks ago you really kind of in talking to him felt he was really progressing and going down the road he needed to go to be ready and confident. It wasn’t until Sunday that I knew for sure we were going to play a game with Sidney Crosby in our lineup. That was at 2:00 on Sunday.”
Whether or not he has ever been around a town like Pittsburgh that embraces their sports teams so much:
“It is very unique and I have never been a part of a city that has embraced their sports teams like this. It’s a part of the fabric of Pittsburgh. It’s the Steelers, the Penguins, the Pirates, we talk about them and lament them but they love their sports. Last night was absolutely amazing and special. The buzz in the city. When Sidney Crosby stepped on the ice for warm-ups and for the game it was an embrace from everyone in the city and the building, it was absolutely special. It was pretty neat.”