Sidney Crosby's agent Pat Brisson told the Los Angeles Times this week that the Pittsburgh Penguins captain would return from a prolong absence, due to concussion-like symptoms, when he felt ready.
"If he had any doubt about his abilities he wouldn't risk it," said Brisson.
He's ready. The Penguins announced on Tuesday that Crosby will be back in the lineup to face the New York Rangers on Thursday night at MSG, with the Penguins four points in back of the Atlantic Division leaders. (The Rangers play tonight against Carolina).
"I feel good and the plan is to play Thursday," Crosby said following practice on Tuesday. "I got a good practice and I'm looking forward to getting out there Thursday."
Coach Dan Bylsma, not wanting to break up lines that have the Penguins on a nine-game winning streak, will have Crosby centering Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.
Crosby last played on Dec. 5 against the Boston Bruins, his eighth game back after 10-month absence due to a concussion sustained in early Jan. 2011. He had 13 points in those eight games, before concussion-like symptoms shelved him again in Dec. 2011.
Since that time, the outlook on Crosby's injury took some dramatic turns. It was reported he had an "abnormality" of the C1 and C2 vertebrae in his neck; later, that was clarified by the Penguins as a "soft-tissue injury of the neck, that could be causing neurological symptoms" and could be a great deal more treatable than a concussion.
Crosby was cleared for contact last week, and said he needed several practices with the Penguins to ensure he was symptom free.
"I've been through this before," said Crosby at the time. "Contact is the big step. It's nice to be symptom free, but it's not as fulfilling until you get out there. I just want to make sure that I take the right steps here and get back out there soon."
Things went well, and now Crosby's expected back with Pittsburgh against the Rangers.
Eastern Conference: Beware the Penguins.
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