Looking ahead to Crosby’s news conference.


Well, judging from some Twitter comments, there is a general sense of pessimism about the word from earlier today that C Sidney Crosby will hold a news conference Wednesday. I dare suggest that this pessimism is not warranted. For weeks I’ve heard from people – fans, and yes, media colleagues – that Crosby should just clear the air. Well, he’s doing that Wednesday, and even then I suspect he might disappoint people because he won’t be specific enough.

I get that. He is the most well known player in our sport and a lot of people in Pittsburgh (and, candidly, in other NHL cities) have shelled out serious coin to see him play. They want to know if he will be ready for games starting Oct. 6 when the Penguins open at Vancouver.

Based off some phone-talking to people inside and outside the organization on Tuesday, here is what I don’t expect to hear from Crosby tomorrow:

* A specific date for his return to contact practices or games;

* Deep details about his emotional state from the offseason;

* Speculation of any kind.

From what I can gather based off talking to people Tuesday, there isn’t anything B-I-G coming from Crosby in this news conference. No retirement announcement. No declaration of playing before Date A or by Date B. No, “I’ll be back next year” talk. He has been seen by three leading experts about his concussion – one the reputable Michael Collins, Ph.D., of UPMC – and he is getting to know very well what his body can handle in terms of exertion.

My gut says he doesn’t know enough yet to get specific. My ears hear people who know him swearing he wants to have been back, like, yesterday. My eyes have seen a guy who repeatedly over the years has played through breaks, bruises and tears.

Pittsburgh, and the hockey world, will get something from Crosby on Wednesday – and it will be, I’m told, the straight-forward reality as it exists on Wednesday. However, with a concussion, reality changes daily. Remember how it was described to me months ago by a neurosurgeon: “the new normal.” Well, from now on, there is indeed a new normal regarding Crosby. He sustained a traumatic brain injury, and the only certainty about one of those is that there is no certainty.

If anything, take the word I’m hearing that he has resumed skating, that he will attend an NHL press obligation later this week in New York, that he is speaking to the local media Wednesday – take all of this as a positive, but not definitive, sign that he is making some progress.

Read my print story in Wednesday’s Trib, which will post online at midnight, for all the latest that I’ve been able to source.

Lost in the Crosby news from Tuesday:

= Single-game regular season tickets go on sale for Sept. 16 at 10 a.m. at the usual spots, by the usual methods. More than 2,000 are available for each game. Check out Ticketmaster.com, call (800) 745-3000, or visit the Consol Energy Center box office.

= The home game promotional schedule is out: http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=587728&navid=DL|PIT|home

So, dear readers, I ask: Which item interests you most?

= A really neat story that will get lost in the Crosby stuff this week is the first Patriots Challenge youth hockey tournament dedicated to the heroes and victims of 9/11. The tournament is scheduled for Sept. 10-11 at the RMU Island Sports Center and will feature one team from the New York, D.C. and Western Pennsylvania areas that were directly impacted on 9/11. Representing the locals wills be the Pittsburgh ’99 Pee Wees, with the New Jersey Rockets and Team Maryland also competing.

According to a release today from the Penguins, the three teams will be competing for the “Patriots Challenge Cup,” donated by the family of Joe Mascali, a New York City fireman Rescue 5, Staten Island, who gave his life on Sept. 11 while on a rescue mission at the World Trade Center. Joe’s nephew, Jack Mascali, plays for the New Jersey Rockets.

The teams also will be participating in community service projects leading up to the games. The Pittsburgh Hornets will be preparing care packages for members of the United States Armed Forces to show their gratitude for the soldiers’ service and sacrifice.

A memorabilia auction will be held on both days at the event, with all proceeds benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project. Among the items up for auction will be jerseys autographed by Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin and an American flag that flew over the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Tournament organizers plan to make this an annual tournament, rotating among the three areas affected directly by Sept. 11 – and featuring more teams in the future.

Personally, I can’t think of a better way for area hockey fans to get involved in paying tribute on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. If you attend, feel free to share your stories with me.