PITTSBURGH - He's back.almost. Sidney Crosby was cleared for contact by the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday, which means he should be back in the lineup soon.
Could that come as soon as Sunday night's home game against Boston?
Nobody was willing to put a timetable on it, but that looms as a possibility.
It's a favorable stretch of schedule for the Penguins, who have home games tonight, Friday and Sunday.
There are practices in between, which should allow Crosby to test himself as much as practice allows.
The question only gets bigger once he does return: Can he stay in the lineup?
When Crosby returned from an 320-day absence brought on by a concussion on Nov. 21, he got through the first two weeks fine.
But after playing eight games, he had a recurrence of headaches and other symptoms, and the Penguins shut him down.
The initial announcement was that Crosby would skip a two-game trip. That was on Dec. 6. He hasn't played since then.
If Crosby can stay in the lineup, the Penguins' Stanley Cup prospects improve immeasurably.
Evgeni Malkin is having a tremendous season, but Crosby would give the Penguins another potent scoring line.
It's up to the coaching staff to figure out how Crosby fits in on an efficient power play.
It's a nice issue to have.
If his headaches are gone, Crosby can get back to creating them for opponents.
On the market
Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts are expected to announce their formal separation today.
Manning is leaving the Colts after missing all of last season following neck surgery.
There are never enough good quarterbacks to go around in the NFL. If Manning is available as a free agent, he should have his pick of opportunities.
He would represent an upgrade for a lot of teams.
But would his presence guarantee success?
History says no. Brett Favre didn't deliver a championship for either the New York Jets or Minnesota Vikings. After using Favre for two seasons, the Vikings had no title and a big vacancy at the quarterback position.
Joe Montana couldn't duplicate his San Francisco magic when he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Your grandfather remembers when the Steelers acquired Bobby Layne after a successful run with the Detroit Lions. That didn't carry over, either.
Veteran quarterbacks often have impressive track records. But sometimes they come with lengthy injury histories and high mileage, too.
Mehno can be reached at email@example.com