When Sidney Crosby did a header at full speed into the end boards, the collective hockey universe gasped as the superstar appeared slow to gather himself.
Crosby went to the bench, and stayed there briefly. He came back out to finish the period.
It was clear to anyone with functioning eyeballs that the concussion spotters did not do their intended job here, despite their expanded protocols established by the NHL.
Crosby returned to play the rest of the game. It’s not like the Pittsburgh Penguins would risk the health of their most valuable resource; one who missed Game 4 due to a concussion. Right?
After the game, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was asked if Crosby was evaluated for a concussion during the first intermission.
“No,” answered Sullivan definitively. “No.”
In an interview that aired on NHL Network, Crosby was asked if he was evaluated afterwards.
He replied, “Yep. Yeah. Pretty standard.”
Someone is not telling the truth here, or at least, telling the whole truth.
We weren’t the only ones that noticed. Both player and coach should expect to face more questions on it in the following days.
Puck Daddy reached out to Chris Nowinski for his point of view. Nowinski is a co-founder of the Boston University CTE Program and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. Nowinski advocates for research, treatment, and prevention of head trauma in athletes.
In an email, Nowinski writes:
“That was nearly the nightmare scenario experts worry about. Playing so soon after a concussion, he may have been a step slower, or made a bad split-second decision, or was just unlucky, and he nearly had a catastrophic neck or head injury. He certainly appeared to meet the criteria for a full evaluation, as he held his head with both hands and didn’t immediately attempt to stand back up. I’m not comfortable that he was allowed to continue playing.”
At some point, the NHL as a league, teams and players have to look beyond winning a Stanley Cup, and consider the rest of their lives. As research continues to evolve, all parties cannot continue to stick their heads in the sand.
Truthfully, what is it going to take for the NHL and teams to protect the players from themselves?