If Sidney Crosby, left, is seeking inspiration as he tries to fully recover from a concussion, his current situation was once the reality of Team Canada teammate Patrice Bergeron, right. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
About a month ago, I ran into one of the Vancouver Canucks at a golf tournament. As much as we both tried to avoid it, the Stanley Cup Final ultimately came up in the conversation.
One of his comments: "Obviously, Tim Thomas was great. But Patrice Bergeron also killed us."
Think about that when you're considering Sidney Crosby's future.
The Penguins released an injury update late Wednesday indicating Crosby continues "to visit leading specialists" and that he started having headaches "when he got to 90 per cent exertion in his workouts" this summer.
It doesn't sound great. But it didn't look good for Bergeron, either.
On New Year's Eve 2009 - about 24 hours before the Boston Bruins were to play the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park - Bergeron walked by as I was talking to Boston defenceman Dennis Wideman.
"What a story he is," Wideman said, looking at his teammate.
Bergeron was en route to his first concussion-free season in three years. He missed 72 games in 2007-08 and 15 more in 2008-09 due to this increasingly serious scourge on the game (Tim Wharnsby wrote more about Bergeron's battle here).
I don't have the exact quotes anymore, but Wideman told a story about showing up on an off-day for treatment during that first Bergeron injury. The room was dark and quiet. When he did see a trainer, all talk was at a whisper. Wideman wondered why there was no light, no music, no normal conversation.
Bergeron was there. And he couldn't handle any of it. He was 22 and there was serious concern about his future.
But he recovered to play 73 games in 2009-10 and 80 last season. He added 20 points in 23 playoff games, including two goals in Game 7 - the first being the Stanley Cup winner. (The best news was that Bergeron made a quick recovery from a concussion suffered during the series sweep over Philadelphia. He missed two games).
The point is, as Crosby's agent, Pat Brisson, said on the Penguins' website: "There is not a finite recovery" time when it comes to concussions. The 24/7 news cycle lacks patience. We want our answers and we want them now. Bergeron is proof, though, that, even if Crosby misses the beginning of this season, he can make a successful return.
The honest truth is that it makes zero sense for Crosby to make any firm declaration about his future. There've been a lot of declarations to retire, some public (doctors, columnists), some undoubtedly private (family, whose vote should matter most after his own).
What Crosby has, though, is time. He just turned 24. Even if he had to take the year off, a full recovery could mean another decade (at least) of high-level play. And you have to believe he will do anything possible to try and come back.
The best description of Crosby came from former teammate Rob Scuderi, who described him as a "superstar with the work ethic of a fourth-liner." He's so competitive and loves the game so much, it's hard to see him walking away at such a young age without exhausting every option.
The idea he's got nothing left to accomplish? The best don't believe that. Just ask Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant or Nicklas Lidstrom.
Bergeron won gold medals with Crosby at the 2005 world juniors and 2010 Olympics. No doubt they've talked. No doubt Crosby knows everything Bergeron went through and how hard it is to recover.
But it can be done. And with Wednesday's brief announcement, Crosby let everyone know he's going to make the smart play - taking all the time he needs.
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