Sidney Crosby will return to action tonight to face the New York Islanders in what should be the most excited crowd in Consol Energy Center's short history. While his return seems to be coming at the perfect time, considering the Penguins' scoring woes in the last few games, the bigger picture involves the best player in the NHL making his return.

Two hits, coming from David Steckel and Victor Hedman, in a five day span last season, sparked Crosby's concussion. From there, the Penguins' captain began to experience dizzy spells, nausea, and headaches. The symptoms progressed for months and Crosby was kept on the shelf for the rest of the 2010-2011 season. The injury came in the middle of a season in which Crosby was on pace to put up 60+ goals and 140+ points while the team enjoyed sitting on top of the Eastern conference. Two violent hits to the head turned everything upside down.

Sidney Crosby stuck to his normal workout routine over the summer and did not seem to face any set backs. Meanwhile, the media continued to perpetuate rumors of retirement and constantly prodded the Penguins, Agent Pat Brisson and Sidney Crosby for updates. In early September, Crosby held a press conference involving his physicians and GM Ray Shero with the intention of bringing the true situation out to the public. A few weeks later, Crosby showed up to practice with the same helmet color as his teammates indicating he was cleared for contact. Due to the Pens' strenuous schedule in October, the contact practices were far and few between. When November started, the Penguins were off for five straight days, allowing Crosby to receive more hits.

Every hit Crosby took was published to the world within five minutes of it happening. There was the Deryk Engelland hit in which Crosby went sliding across the ice. The video was played on ESPN and analyzed for a few minutes. Then, there was a practice in which Crosby lost an edge and crashed into the boards. His reaction? A smile. This was fun again.

The public waited anxiously for news on Crosby's return. The question was asked before every game: is this the one? Will he play against Dallas? Will he play against the Avalanche? What about the Canes? Will Crosby play in Florida? The excitement became anxiety as fans began to speculate that he had another setback.

And then…Sunday.

The announcement of Crosby's return spread like a wildfire. Finally! He's coming back and ready to pick up where he left off. Granted, it may take a few games for Sid to get back on track, but for now fans of the Penguins, and hockey in general, should be happy that he's back. Then again, with his skill set and determination, don't be surprised if he has fireworks early on. Crosby possesses talent that has not been displayed in the this league for over ten years. Compound that with what his teammates are saying as well as the videos of his practices posted online, and I say Crosby could make an impact on his first shift tonight.

The only uneasiness with this news involves the first opponent Crosby will face: New York Islanders. This is the same team that called up goons from the AHL to try and bully the Penguins last February. Eric Tangradi received a mild concussion and was taunted by Trevor Gillies as Tangradi barely managed to stay upright on one knee. The game which featured 346 penalty minutes and several ejections was a disgrace to the sport of hockey and nearly led to Mario Lemieux's departure from the sport. Fast forward to today. The Islanders are still one of the Penguins' division rivals and they are in their usual spot of last place in the division, eight points back from fourth place New Jersey. What would they have to lose in taking a shot at Sidney Crosby? Remember, players respect the game, but they rarely respect each other on the ice. Any questions involving a possible lingering concussion issue with Sid could be answered in the first game. At the same time, if Crosby is medically cleared to take contact and participate in an NHL game, then he needs to go out and play. Remember, David Steckel's blindside hit on Crosby during the Winter Classic was a complete accident.

With the Penguins tied for most points in the Eastern conference with the hated Flyers, Crosby's return has the potential to push the Penguins on top. Despite numerous injuries and a very difficult schedule to start this season, the Pens continue to impress. Now, their captain returns as the other superstars, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, continue to dominate. With James Neal's added scoring touch and Kris Letang's solid play on the blue line, the Penguins are ready to show why they were picked as the Stanley Cup favorites before the start of the season.

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