When the news broke that Sidney Crosby had suffered a set back in his battle with his concussion and it’s symptoms, I was not really shocked but was really disappointed. Why was I not shocked? Well since his return, Sid has been on the receiving end of some very hard hits. Whether it was solid shots from Milan Jurcina of the New York Islanders, David Krejci of the Boston Bruins with an errand elbow or even when he collided with team mate Chris Kunitz…..Sid has taken his fair share of hits since his return. I am afraid it caught up to him.
My heart was heavy when I first heard that Sid was going to be missing two games in a row due to “symptoms” and at that moment I knew the return was too good to be true. I was ok with Sidney sitting until he is 100% healed and ready to go. Having been a fan of Mario Lemieux since I have been a young boy, I grew up seeing my favorite player struggle with health issues and was used to him missing significant chunks of time. Now as a 35 year old man, I was witnessing history repeat itself with Sidney Crosby. There is something that I was not prepared for though and that was the venom from some of his own fans.
There were people questioning Sidney’s toughness and commitment to the game and his team. This was very odd to me but maybe I know something that some of them do not. You see, I am from Nova Scotia. Yes, the same Nova Scotia as Sidney himself. He was actually born just a little over 2 hours from where I was. The entire time he was growing up, we heard of a kid who was going to be “The Next One.” People were in awe of his skills and his commitment to the game at even such a young age. There never really is an off season for him, for he is always refining his game and working on areas that may not be as strong as others.
It is laughable to question his commitment and desire. Just watch the way the guy plays and you can easily see it. He leaves everything out on the ice every shift whether he is in the offensive zone or in the defensive zone, he never takes a shift off. I heard that he wasn’t tough because he could not play with the symptoms and that other people have played high levels of hockey for decades with concussions. That if they can, than he should. Really?
So to the people who use this argument, here are some questions you must answer. Have you played at the highest levels of hockey your entire life since you were a child? Have you been the target of opposing teams every shift since you are an elite talent? Have you had to carry the pressure of being not just the face of a franchise but also an entire league? Do you spend your off seasons working hard on your game to become even better? Do you know the difficulty in maintaining all of these factors and the toll it takes on a player mentally and physically? Were you able to answer these questions? No? I bet I know who can……..Sidney Crosby.
When Mario Lemieux suffered back injuries, did his fans yell for him to retire as they were tired of the drama? When he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, did we tell him to pack it up and go home? No, we did not. We rallied around Lemieux and the team, waiting for the day that he would return. Now remember, Mario had many returns but not one time did we say we were sick of hearing about him being out of the line up and wished he would retire.
Now is the time we must rally around Sidney and The team again. This is all too familiar territory for Penguins fans. There are two benefits that Sidney has that we may not realize. #1 is that we, the fans, are veterans of this due to Mario’s past heath and overall are a patient group. There will be some who want to be the center of attention and cry out the opposite of the group but that is ok. They just want to be noticed. #2 is that Sidney has the best mentor possible for dealing with this and that is Mario Lemieux himself. His own experiences will provide Sidney with some comfort and also will allow him to come to terms with what is going on.
It is not about people being right or wrong about their opinion. It is not about drama surrounding a player. It is not about personal bias. It is about a 24 year old player who has health issues and needs to over come them. Not just for the game or his team. No, he needs to overcome them to have a normal life. Sidney inspires so many people, is a genuine good person, loves his fans and his team mates and yes, he is a special talent that arrives once a life time, he deserves to be healthy.
I am hoping we haven’t seen his last cup win in the ‘Burgh. Get better Sid, we miss you!