A standing ovation for pregame warmups 11.21.11 | 6:33 PM ET
PITTSBURGH --Sidney Crosby was the second to last Penguin on the ice for warmups, trailed only by Evgeni Malkin, who always comes out last.
Teh seats are about half-full, which is a lot for warmups. They were empty when Crosby stepped on the ice because he received a standing ovation, another rarity for pregame warmups.
-- Dan Rosen
Crosby is everywhere tonight 11.21.11 | 6:10 PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- In a rare coincidence, Sidney Crosby is pictured on the ticket to tonight's game at Consol Energy Center. The ticket was printed months ago, and there was no way for the Penguins staff to know then that this would the night that Crosby would be returning.
However, now that the Penguins know Crosby is playing tonight, they are breaking out all of his intros and videos for the scoreboard. Whatever that got filmed in training camp that they have been waiting to use will likely get put into use tonight.
About the only thing they aren't doing for Crosby tonight is raising his No. 87 to the rafters.
NHL.com has blanketed the scene at Consol Energy Center and at rinks around the League. Here's your one-stop shop to all the stories on Crosby's return that will get you up to speed.
Feeling butterflies -- Crosby has had nearly a year to think about this game, and he's as excited as anyone to get back on the ice. "It's something I've thought about a lot over the last 10 months, so it's pretty exciting. You don't always get this anxious for games, and this is one I can definitely say I'm anxious and excited for." -- Full story by Dan Rosen
Player reaction --Steve Sullivan knows what Crosby is going in through in terms of coming back after a long layoff due to injury. The Islanders said they plan on hitting on Crosby, but they won't be targeting him any more or less than usual. -- Full story by Alan Robinson
Been there, done that --Patrice Bergeron knows what Sidney Crosby is going through. The Bruins' center missed nearly all of the 2007-08 season because of a concussion and wasn't back to his old self right away. Bergeron offered support and advice to his friend throughout -- Full story by Arpon Basu
Crosby on camera -- Watch No. 87 hold court with the media at his locker following this morning's practice at Consol Energy Center -- Click here for the full video
B's Bergeron offers support to Crosby 11.21.11 | 3:15 PM ET Boston's Patrice Bergeron, who missed virtually the entire 2007-08 season with a concussion, knows exactly what Sidney Crosby is going through. The two were teammates during the 2005 World Championships and 2010 Olympics and are still friends today.
Bergeron said he offered some support and advice as Crosby went through his concussion ordeal.
"I guess every three or four weeks I would shoot him a text," Bergeron said Monday morning. "I was happy to see his progress and I was just saying that I wished him all the best and for him to try and stay positive and that he would get through it, he would learn from it and he would be a better player and better person. I was not trying to be a mentor or anything like that. I was just trying to be a friend because I've been through it."
Media out in full force for Sid's return 11.21.11 | 1:55 PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- The Penguins have accredited roughly 250 media members for Sidney Crosby's return tonight against the Islanders. According to the team's communications department, the average amount of credentialed media members covering a regular-season game is somewhere between 50 and 75.
Speaking as a member of the credentialed media, the amount of people here reminds me of a Stanley Cup Final. In fact, the Penguins credentialed about roughly 250 people for the Cup Final in 2009.
It was like a mob scene outside the Penguins dressing room before the double-doors swung open, allowing us all access to the room. Even before the doors opened, cameramen and reporters were jostling for position because getting there first means you don't have to worry about hearing Crosby talk.
The Penguins set this up, per Crosby's request, to do all the media at his locker stall in two waves, first for broadcast and second for print. He did not want to do a press conference, which is normally Crosby's style. He doesn't want to make it look like he's bigger than the team, even though we all know at this present time he is.
Before Crosby even strolled into the dressing room there was a group about five or six deep by his locker stall. James Neal and Matt Cooke, Crosby's neighbors to his immediate right and left, had nowhere to go. Pascal Dupuis, who sits two stalls down, next to Neal, had to change quickly and get out of the way or else he would have been sucked into the crowd.
Crosby put on his sweaty baseball cap, took a swig of water, sat down and started answering questions. He spoke with the broadcast people for about six minutes and then the print guys swarmed on him, asking him questions for about eight minutes.
Each session was interrupted by Penguins PR man Frank Buonomo saying, "Two more questions for Sid, that's all." Buonomo was barely visible behind all the cameras, but he could be heard and that's all that mattered to him.
Soon after the second wave of questions ended, the Penguins announced Dan Bylsma was going to the podium in the media room. Neal could finally slide across the bench into his normal spot and Cooke could finally get in to change as well.
Life was back to normal inside the Penguins' dressing room, but only for a little while.
The throng will be back tonight.
-- Dan Rosen
Crosby expects wild atmosphere at Consol 11.21.11 | 1:45 PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- The anticipation for Sidney Crosby's return has been building for months. It has now reached a fevered pitch, so much so that No. 87 can't wait to get to Consol Energy Center tonight to experience the atmosphere.
"It should be pretty loud. It should be a pretty amazing atmosphere," Crosby said. "I'm looking forward to it. I've missed it a lot. It's pretty exciting to get the chance to start here at home."
Crosby said his teammates have been feeling the demand from family and friends for extra tickets.
"I think guys were talking about that a little bit earlier," he said. "There are a few more demands going on right now."
-- Dan Rosen
Audio: Crosby, Bylsma others talk about big night 11.21.11 | 12:50 PM ET
Click to listen to what the Penguins had to say following this morning's practice:
Bylsma gave away tickets before learning of return 11.21.11 | 12:10 PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he was sitting in the stands at his son's hockey game Sunday afternoon when he got a call from GM Ray Shero informing him that Sidney Crosby would be back in the lineup Monday.
"We knew he was getting close and we knew he would be seeing the doctor on Sunday," Bylsma said. "There was a slight anticipation that possibly Monday would be the day. I know he had the doctor yesterday morning and met with them."
Bylsma offered proof that Monday was not a pre-determined date for Crosby to return by saying his wife gave away the family tickets to the game two days ago.
"So my family doesn't have tickets to this game," he said while laughing.
-- Dan Rosen
Crosby, Malkin, Staal together at last
11.21.11 | 12:02 PM ET
Yes, that is Sidney Crosby in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ starting lineup against the New York Islanders. It’s the comeback that Crosby, the Penguins and the NHL have awaited since January, when Crosby sustained a concussion that ultimately sidelined him for more than 10 months.
This will be only the third game in the last two seasons that all three of the Penguins’ top centers – Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal – will play in the same game. Staal missed the first half of last season with a foot injury and broken hand.
But Crosby isn’t the only Penguins player to return following an injury layoff. Defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who hasn’t played since Oct. 22 because of a broken finger in his right hand, also returns and will be paired with usual partner Paul Martin.
The Penguins’ lineup, one they have been waiting to put on the ice since the season began:
Marc-Andre Fleury is back in goal after Brent Johnson played during a 3-2 loss at Florida on Saturday night. Fleury is 7-0-1 at Consol Energy Center this season.
-- Alan Robinson
Morning skate breaks up, it's off to the dressing room
11.21.11 | 11:02 AM ET
PITTSBURGH --Dan Bylsma has brought the team over for one final word and the morning skate is breaking up, though the Penguins are not quick to leave the ice. They're working on faceoffs and testing the goalies with point shots through traffic.
There was nothing out of the ordinary here other than the enormous media contingent in the stands.
So far I have seen reporters from ESPN.com, Yahoo, The Globe and Mail, USA Today, TSN, Sportsnet, RDS, ESPN and the New York Times. That's not including the local papers as well as Newsday, which is here to cover the Islanders.
It's time to head downstairs to see what No. 87 has to say this morning.
Crosby is working the half walls. Malkin has been up at the point and now he's down low. The Penguins have been rotating. Neal has been in the slot most of the time and Sullivan down low. Letang has stayed up at the point.
-- Dan Rosen
Crosby takes the ice for morning skate 11.21.11 | 10:27 AM ET
PITTSBURGH -- Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was the first guy on the ice at 10:15. Defenseman Deryk Engelland was the first player on the ice after assistant coaches Tony Granato and Tod Reirden followed Bylsma onto the ice.
Sidney Crosby was the fourth Penguin on the ice, making his way out there at 10:23.
Seeing Crosby in the morning is nothing unusual considering he has been practicing with the team, including morning skates, since Oct. 13. The only skate he missed was Nov. 5 in Los Angeles, and that was because he had to return to Pittsburgh to meet with his medical team.
The rest of the Penguins are streaming onto the ice now.
-- Dan Rosen
Still quiet here at CEC 11.21.11 | 10:07 AM ET
PITTSBURGH -- The Zamboni is just finishing it's morning sweep of the ice and now one guy is on the ice with a squeegee. The nets are stationed near the half-walls, waiting to get put in their proper places.
Overall it's still relatively quiet here at Consol Energy Center. It won't be for long.
Sidney Crosby is expected to take the ice with his teammates for the Penguins morning skate in about 25 minutes.
The anticipation for Crosby's return is palpable in this rainy city.
There is national media here for a Penguins-Islanders game. That normally doesn't happen, especially this early in the season. CBC has added a special edition of Hockey Night in Canada to cover Crosby's return. Versus switched off of the Montreal-Boston game tonight to broadcast Crosby's return live starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Shortly before midnight a local newscast had a live shot from outside Consol Energy Center. Fifth Street was quiet except for the news vans. Now that's rare for a Sunday night in November.
Crosby is expected to skate between Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis tonight. Those are the linemates he had for the bulk of his 25-game scoring streak last season.
Now the nets have been stationed in their normal places and bolted in by the moorings. The guys with the squeegees are leaving the ice. Crosby and the Pens will take the ice soon.