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No Timetable Yet.

By Michael Shea

In news that is music to the ears of all Pittsburgh Penguins fans, and causing Flyer and Capitals fans to curse, Sidney Crosby announced today with his doctors by his side that he will indeed be back to play in the NHL this season. This seemed like an impossible scenario just as little as a few weeks ago as many had reported that Sidney was thinking of retirement.

Dr. Michael Collins and Dr. Ted Carrick were at the press conference with Sidney and Pens GM Ray Shero, and they have been the main two concussion experts that have been treating Sid. Shero kicked off the press conference offering condolences on the tragic plane crash of the KHL team, in what has been another blow to hockey fans around the world. Dr. Collins described in detail what a concussion is, and how treatments have been helping Sid. Now I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but this guy made things clearer than I've ever heard anyone make a concussion before. He first saw Sid in January of 2011, and knew from his tests that Sid was in for a long recovery period. Dr. Collins actually referred to Sid as a Ferrari, and explained his treatments. When Sid hit 90% of his activity level he started having symptoms again. At this point, Dr. Carrick got involved and Sid is now in reconditioning mode. When Sid has reached levels they are comfortable with, he will be cleared to return.
Dr. Carrick then took over because of the ongoing symptoms and Sid went to see him at his facility in Georgia. Dr. Carrick is using a more physical approach to rehab, basically retooling Sid's brain to see things as he used to see them, regaining balance and other skills needed. The treatments of Sid are designed to get him to return to hockey, but more importantly to make sure he can enjoy a long and fruitful life after hockey. Dr. Carrick also took a few shots at the NHL with mentions of useless head shots and cleaning up the game. Sid agreed that there is no reason to have head shots in the game, as a league and as a union. All players have to be responsible at all times so that it doesn't take anything away from the game long term.
Sid then took a few questions and said he really feels as good now as he has in a long time. When asked specifically about retirement, Sid said no that thought never entered his mind. Dr. Collins then mentioned that Sid would be introduced back to contact in a systematic and very careful way. Pressed on timeframes, expectations are sometime around Christmas this year give or take a few weeks. Sid estimates he is about 90%, and as the doctors noted, his 90% is probably much different than anybody else and they will be very in tune to that going forward. Sid said yes he could probably get by at 90%, but he's going to follow the advice of his doctors and use their timetables.
Things took a more heated turn when a reporter asked about the possibility that he might never play again, to which Sid said, "Don't bet on that". He said he realizes how bad concussion are now, but feels like he's in pretty good shape, and can see some light at the end of the tunnel. He was asked about participation in training camp, but left that up in the air at this point. Sid said simple things have really given him the most trouble, things like watching TV, driving, even having the radio on would bother him. He said he had trouble watching video and sitting through meetings, but feels like he's made enough progress now that camp may be an option. Dr. Collins was asked about Sid taking the back to back hits in games and how that may have played into the injury, and he described it as a perfect storm of hits, but when pressed on if Sid would be able to play on October 6th, he said "I have no earthly idea".
The press conference took a more positive turn when a reporter asked Sid if it was more or less likely that he will play this year, and flashing his trademark smile he said "likely". Dr. Carrick said over time it will be like this injury never happened, and Sid will have a long and fruitful career. Both doctors said now that they have more markers on Sid's injuries and will be better able to deal with any issues going forward. Shero added that from a team standpoint, Sid will not play at any time until he is absolutely ready to go. Sid said he has a good support system in place and feels very confident in his recovery.
All in all it wasn't the best news for Penguins fans, but it was far from the doom and gloom that some had been reporting over the last few weeks. Watching Sid play over the years and seeing his passion for the game, I have no doubt in my mind he'll be back this year. For now all we can do is wait.
Follow Michael on twitter at @mshea46w

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