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A possible Sidney Crosby timeline as he returns from core muscle surgery

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Crosby is on the outskirts of the team, we dig into recovery steps and a possible guide map based on another recent similar surgery by Zach Trotman

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A couple weeks after surgery, it’s nice to see Sidney Crosby on the peripheral of being around the team last night. Crosby joined Justin Schultz and Chad Ruhwedel below in the locker-room to give fist bumps to a happy returning Penguins’ team coming off the ice after securing an overtime win against the Calgary Flames.

Josh Yohe had a fun exchange with the captain too.

Injured players in the NHL are sometime seen but never heard from, as summed up well by the Post-Gazette last week.

“From what I’ve experienced here, they’ve got a lot of staff working with you,” Bjugstad said. “I think keeping that morale and routine is key. But, yeah, it’s not as fun coming to the rink when you can’t hang out with the guys and tell some stories or whatever. You want them to be home if you’re injured.”

When the Penguins get back into town, Rust said the active players make a point to shoot the breeze with injured ones so they “feel a little bit more like they’re in it.” Mike Sullivan and the coaching staff also keep them engaged. Injured players sit in on meetings and have individual chats with a coach most days.

“We try to be inclusive with those guys so when they do come back they understand what the discussion is and the talking points around the team at the time, they know how we’re trying to learn and get better every day,” Sullivan said. “It certainly keeps them in the loop with their teammates, as well.”

Sullivan, a former NHL player, added: “Sometimes you can feel isolated, especially if you’re on a longer-term injury. It can feel like an eternity when you’re not with the team. So we try to keep them around the team as much as we can.”

The team has announced that Crosby will be out “at least” six weeks following his surgery, but the captain may be able to take a tangible step towards returning fairly soon, especially now that he is back around the team a bit and not totally in the shadows.

And we have a road map of a recent similar recovery by defenseman Zach Trotman to use as a roadmap for Crosby. Granted, every person is different, and Crosby is three years older than Trotman, so there’s no guarantee he can or will follow the exact same schedule. But as a general idea, here’s what Crosby’s recovery could look like.

  • Sugery for core muscle repair (sometimes called sports hernia which is a bit of a misnomer since it’s not actually a “hernia”) — 9/23 for Trotman, 11/14 for Crosby
  • Return to ice to skate alone — 10/10 for Trotman (2.5 weeks after surgery).....which would make Tuesday 12/3 for Crosby
  • Return to practice with the team, non-contact capacity — 10/21 for Trotman (4 weeks after surgery)....which translates directly to Thursday 12/12 for Sid in the exact same time line
  • Activated from injured reserve 10/26 for Trotman (a few days short of 5 weeks post-surgery)....translates to 12/17 for Crosby

Trotman’s return was on the quicker side of the “at least six weeks” specific tag the Pens threw out there for Crosby, so let’s list that clearly. And for what it’s worth Trotman didn’t play a game until five days after coming off IR. So Crosby might not be in the exact same boat and meet every potential date above. His return surely will be monitored and delayed as necessary.

But the main takeaway is a surgical procedure like this at least doesn’t have the indefinite dread or haze of a concussion or injury where a return time can be unknown. More or less Crosby should be about on the path that Trotman had to go down a few weeks earlier. If that path has the exact same timeline, Crosby will be back on the ice in exactly one week from today. Time will obviously tell if he meets that standard, or needs a bit longer — which obviously is totally fine — but point being that while Sidney Crosby is on the outskirts of the team for right now, it won’t really be too long until he’s able to use his rest and rehab to be able and take a step towards returning to the lineup probably sooner than later.