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Are we in the final stages of Sidney Crosby Watch 2011?

(UPDATE: Crosby told the media today his next meeting with doctors is later this week, and that the meeting is "routine.")

Looking back at the timeline for his concussion recovery, two things stand out about Sidney Crosby(notes): That there have been more stops and starts than rush hour traffic, and that this has been one of the most obsessively covered injuries in NHL history, from his alleged All-Star protest to Bob McCown alleging that Crosby's family wants him retired to the "Sid's a Ferrari" press conference.

It'll be refreshing when he's back on the ice, and the obsessive coverage morphs back into the cozy confines of Crosby idol worship.

That return to the Pittsburgh Penguins grows forever closer, according to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Center Sidney Crosby will visit with his medical team Tuesday to determine if he is ready for contact. Crosby, out of NHL games since Jan. 5 because of a concussion, is scheduled to meet with Michael Collins, a clinical neuropsychologist who heads the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, the Penguins confirmed Monday night. Crosby is not expected to play for the Penguins in their home opener Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers at Consol Energy Center.

Collins has overseen Crosby's treatment from the start and will determine if he can return to contact situations in practices — the next step as Crosby prepares for his anticipated return to games.

Rossi reports that Crosby is wearing the non-contact colors at the Penguins' Tuesday morning skate.

XM Home Ice's Josh Rimer, who's had good info on the Crosby Watch, expects him to be cleared for contact today and will be "a couple of weeks" from his return to the Pens.

It's hard to imagine Sid's first game back won't be in the 'Burgh; the Penguins face the Devils on Saturday, Oct. 22 and then the Islanders on Thursday, Oct. 27. (Although the thought of Crosby returning against the Isles, after last season's exchange of pleasantries, is a provocative one.)

Wow … seems like just yesterday that Ron Cook was writing about rushing Crosby back because the Penguins "needed him" and he'd just get injured again eventually anyway. Can't wait until the speculative nonsense season officially ends in favor of 87 back on the ice.

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