Penguins megastar Sidney Crosby is back . . . sort of.
He is back on the ice with teammates after recovering from post-concussion syndrome. But his recovery isn’t complete, since Crosby was held out of contact drills when training camp started.
“It felt good out there,” Crosby after his first session back with the Pens. “It was a really good pace and I think it was tough, but fun to feel that again.”
One of his medical advisers believes he is ready for contact, but the Pens are going slow with him. The risk of re-injury is high with severe concussions and the team was in no hurry to expose him to that risk.
Here are some other players attempting to come back from serious injuries:
Zach Parise, W, Devils: He played just 13 games after suffering a knee injury in November. He signed a one-year deal, setting him for unrestricted free agency after the season. He is two years removed from his 45-goal, 94-point explosion. Can he get anywhere near that plateau given the depleted state of the New Jersey attack?
Evgeni Malkin, C, Penguins: Can his knee hold up? If so, he will become a 100-point threat again. If not, he could labor as he did last season when he produced just 37 points in 43 games. Given the concussion re-injury threat hanging over Crosby, Pittsburgh needs him to make a full comeback. “I think he's a motivated guy right now,” coach Dan Bylsma told reporters.
Mark Streit, D, Islanders: He suffered a severe shoulder injury during a preseason scrimmage and missed last season. He was on the ice for several weeks before camp, trying to regain his old game form that saw him score 27 goals during a two-season span. “I'm in good shape and great spirits,” he told reporters. “As you can imagine, I'm very excited for training camp, for the first preseason game and for the first regular-season game."
Jonas Hiller, GT, Ducks: He has recovered from the vertigo-like symptoms that sidelined him last season. He prepared for training camp by facing shots back home in Switzerland. “The first time back on the ice and I'm already feeling a lot better than the last time I skated here at the end of the season,” Hiller told reporters. “I felt like it was more a timing issue, which wasn't right, because I haven't seen the puck properly for a while but (through) practice it starting getting better and I feel comfortable with where I'm at right now."
Derek Roy, C, Sabres: He is back to full strength after finally recovering from a torn quadriceps muscle. He quickly reestablished his chemistry with linemates Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. “It was a good summer of training,” Roy told reporters. “It was a more relaxing environment. Today was just another day of practice with my teammates. It was fun to be 100 percent.”
Mike Green, D, Capitals: Last season was an unmitigated disaster for him. He struggled with the new defensive system. He missed the last 19 games of the regular season with a concussion. He came back for the playoffs, then suffered a hip flexor injury. The bottom line was a 24-point season. But he still has point-per-game potential on this highly-skilled team.
Ryan Whitney, D, Oilers: He has played just 56 games the past two season in Edmonton, but he scored 38 points in that span. He had 27 points in 35 games last season before season-ending ankle surgery. He is working his way back, hoping to return time to play a few preseason games. “If it doesn't happen, it's not the end of the world, but that's where I want to be because, after not playing half a season, it would be tough to hop into the first game of the regular season,” he told the Edmonton Journal. “You do need some warmup games."
Peter Mueller, LW, Avalanche: He is back after missing last with post-concussion syndrome. So far he has felt no ill effects from contact. “I took a couple hits and I gave some hits, and I didn't really feel anything,” Mueller told reporters. “I'm extremely happy . . . It's another step in recovering.”
Bryce Salvador, D, Devils: After missing the entire 2010-11 season with a concussion, he is back to add stability to the New Jersey blue line. He has spent time paired with top Devils rookie Adam Larsson. “I think it was definitely a learning experience, showing that not all concussions are the same," Salvador told reporters. “It was just fun to be back. It's been a long time since I've had that kind of energy going through me. It was a 'nice to be alive' kind of thing. It's good to be back out there."
Marc Staal, D, Rangers: Concerns over his post-concussion syndrome prompted the team to hold him out of preseason scrimmages. Will he be all the way back to 100 percent by the time the real games start?