Is the NHL even truly back until the Pittsburgh Penguins have their first injury scare? If so, it’s game back on.
Captain Sidney Crosby left the bench early in the “second period” of an inter-team scrimmage on Saturday morning. Crosby looked strong in the first portion of the practice along with linemates Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel. Then the team left the ice for about 15 minutes for the ice to be resurfaced.
When they returned, Crosby didn’t stay long. With no real apparent or obvious incident, Crosby removed himself from the bench and went back into the locker-room. He was done for the day and wouldn’t return for the last 25ish minutes of practice.
Sheary suggested afterwords the good word to hear of “maintenance” which means a very minor issue.
Sheary says he thinks Crosby leaving was just a "maintenance thing." #Pens— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) July 18, 2020
However, the official team word is going to be buttoned up on all injuries, especially in this climate. Coach Mike Sullivan was never much for useful details on injuries in normal times, and now doubly so since he can fall back on the new league policy to not disclose basically any information to fans about player’s status in the wake of the COVID pandemic.
Coach Sullivan on Sidney Crosby leaving the scrimmage early: "As the league has put forth these rules, we're not permitted to comment."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 18, 2020
Being cautious and conservative is the right play here, if that is what is was. The Pens play their exhibition game against the Flyers in 10 days. In two weeks (14 days) is the scheduled start of Game 1 of the play-in against the Montreal Canadiens. There’s no need to push or strain too hard in an early training camp practice.
Really, the only way to know is to see if Crosby is able to join the Pens on the ice for their next practice. If so, this was a very minor issue. If not, it’s pretty much going to be “wait and see” until he does, because there’s not likely to be a lot of official information coming out to give updates.