He's baaaaaaack.  After a ten month absence from the game, Pittsburgh Penguin captain Sidney Crosby is ready to return.  He'll make his season debut on Monday.

Sidney Crosby has been missing from the NHL landscape since last January when he suffered hard hits to the head in two different games.  Crosby went out with a concussion.  He stayed out until now with post-concussion syndrome after feeling headaches and dizziness following work-outs.  Those symptoms finally ended not long ago.  Crosby was cleared for contact just last month, making way for today's news.  The Pittsburgh Penguins center man will make his season debut Monday night against the New York Islanders.  The Stanley Cup champion and Olympic gold medal winner will rejoin a team that hasn't seemed to miss him too much.  They're second in their division and boast the (tied for) third highest point total in the league so far this season.  That's a scary thought for the rest of the league.  What will they look like with him?

The NHL is likely asking a different question, however.  What can the brand look like with him?  Sidney Crosby is widely believed to be the best hockey player in the game today.  While that may be up for debate, the fact that Crosby is the face of the NHL certainly is not.  It is no secret that in recent years the NHL has taken a step back in terms of national spotlight.  If they are to ever climb out of the niche role they have begun to occupy Crosby's star status figures to be important.