Pittsburgh Penguins Time Capsules: Mapping Sidney Crosby’s 2012 Return

Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

In Mar. 2012, Sidney Crosby made his triumphant return to the Pittsburgh Penguins following a recurrence of concussion symptoms, here is a look back at his journey.

Before the blood bath of a series the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philidelphia Flyers engaged in during the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, Sidney Crosby experienced one of the darkest times of his professional career.

The nearly year and a half struggle, left the hockey world wondering if Crosby would be able to retain superstar status in his post-concussion world.

While the Flyers dispatched the Penguins in six games, Crosby’s ability to engage in physical battles and leave the series unscathed was the bigger victory.

Here is a look back at Crosby’s return.

Return of the Kid?

It was a grueling 15-month stretch for Captain Crosby, who dealt with the repercussions from the concussion he suffered at the 2011 Winter Classic featured a few starts and stops.

Crosby returned to the Penguins lineup on Nov. 21, 2011, and lasted 8 games before an elbow to the head from David Krejci and collision with Chris Kunitz on Dec. 5, 2011, in a game vs. Boston sidelined him again.

Initially, it was thought that Crosby would miss a game or two, but it would not be until early Mar. 2012, that Crosby was cleared for contact and eyed a return to the lineup for the final month of the season.

Any doubts about Crosby’s skill diminished during his hiatus were quickly cast aside, as he scored 12 points in the 8 games before the return of his concussion symptoms.

Bright Lights, Big City

Crosby made his return to the Penguins lineup on Mar. 15, 2012, vs. New York Rangers, along with Kris Letang, who also missed some time with a concussion.

In the days before the game, Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma wanted to limit Crosby’s playing time to 15 minutes and discussed having Crosby center a line, flanked by Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.

Crosby played 16 minutes and earned two assists on Pascal Dupuis and Kunitz’s goals. Picking up right where he left off.

Bloodied, but not Broken

In the ninth game of his second comeback tour, Crosby and the Penguins experienced a huge scare, that could have stopped the return dead in its tracks.

Early in the second period, Islanders defenseman Dylan Reese tried to clear a puck that caught Crosby in the face. Crosby laid on the ice for a couple of minutes and then headed to the locker room for medical attention.

The good news for Crosby, the Penguins, and the fans, was that less than 10 minutes later Crosby returned to the bench which allowed Pensnation to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Battlelines Drawn

The Penguins and Flyers played each other three times (Mar. 18, Apr. 1, Apr. 7) before the end of the regular season. Crosby scored one goal and three points.

The Flyers took two out of three games and the game on Apr. 1, set the stage for the highly contentious playoff series.

After Joe Vitale laid out Daniel Briere in the final minutes of the third period, following a Jakob Voracek empty-net goal pure chaos ensued.

Dirty or…

After a 10-man brawl, and a stick smash on the boards from Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, 40 minutes in penalties were divvied up between the teams. Following the game, fines were issued to both teams for their actions during and after the game. The fine were roughly $10, 000 to the Flyers and $2500 to the Penguins.

Laviolette took exception to Bylsma playing the fourth-line following Voracke’s goal and felt Vitale’s hit on Briere was dirty. The fourth line had not been on the ice for over 12 minutes prior to the scrum.

Whether the Vitale hit was retribution for Brayden Schenn‘s cross-check to Crosby earlier in the period remains to be seen.

What are some of your memories from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Flyers series, drop them in the comment section below!