Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sidney Crosby Talks Concussion Timeline, Lack of League Response, Steckel, Return

The Sidney Crosby concussion continues to evolve and the focus of the story seems to be less about how long the Pittsburgh Penguins star and NHL’s best player is going to be out of the lineup and more about everything else that went into the injury itself.  Concussions and trying to prevent them have been a point of conversation for the NHL over the past few seasons including the creation and implementation of Rule 48 to deal with headshots in game action.  It is strange to see that Crosby, whom many deem the most protected player in the game, take two blows to the head with only two minutes of penalties called, no retaliation by his teammates and no suspensions from the league. 
That series of facts was obvious on Crosby’s mind today when he spoke to reporters today about the injury.  He criticizes the NHL for not following through on all their talk about headshots (1:41-2:40 of the video) when he said:
I didn't like them. You talk about headshots and dealing with them, and that's been something that's been a pretty big point of interest from everybody -- GMs and players. When I look at those two hits and when we talk about blindside, that's a big word, unsuspecting player, there's no puck there on both of them and direct hit to the head on both of them. If you go through the criteria, I think they fit all those.
I know it's a fast game. If anybody understands it's a fast game ... I've been hit a thousand times. When you get hit like that, there's nothing you can do. There's no way to protect yourself. Those are things that hopefully they pay more attention to. It's easy saying that, being in this situation; but those are two hits, looking back, that I can't say I should have done something different or had my head down. I wouldn't change anything. [emphasis mine]
In general Crosby is 100% right in those comments that the league has been wildly inconsistent in how they have sought to implement Rule 48 this season where some actions get let go and others of the same exact ilk are hit with varying degrees of punishment. 
In discussing the David Steckel hit/collision from the Winter Classic (video of hit) Crosby reiterates his belief that Steckel could have avoided him if he wanted when he said:
On the Steckel one, it's tough. It's really tough to decide if he meant to or didn't mean to. I feel like he could have gotten out of the way and avoided me. Whether he tried to hurt me, only he knows. I guess we'll never know that, but you still have to be responsible out there. I can carry my stick up around my head and say that I'm protecting myself, but I still have to be responsible for whatever I do with my stick if I end up high-sticking someone.
It's the same thing. In that situation, I don't see anything [and] he sees me there. He sees the whole ice and he doesn't avoid me. I don't think that's responsible on his part. Whether or not he tried to hurt me, only he knows that. But he's got to be the one to try to avoid me in that situation.
This series of comments is likely going to get Crosby criticism especially from those who have an aversion to him already because of the exaggerated example he gives to try and create a metaphorical scenario on the ice and the fact that he did not give Steckel the benefit of the doubt on his intent.  You can say that he did not out and out accuse Steckel but the majority of the time when you lay out a scenario as he did where you say “only he knows” you are going to find many that presume it to be you accusing that person of a dirty play, especially when you then call him irresponsible saying he saw you and did not try to avoid you. 
From listening to Sidney it seems like the concussion was more likely from the collision with Steckel seeing as how he was not feeling “right” even before Hedman boarded him into the glass and probably exacerbated whatever symptoms he was already having.  Why it matters when he originally sustained the concussion is not about whether the Steckel hit was clean or dirty but the fact that the Penguins let him finish the Winter Classic game and play in a gave four days later while possibly having a concussion. Maybe Sidney should be complaining about that as well as the league for not protecting the players because as we have seen in other sport’s many times the league does a better job protecting the players from each other and themselves than the team’s do.
Instead Crosby defending the organization from just that kind of critcism when he said: "No, I mean, looking back, I wouldn't have changed anything we did. It may be easy to say that now, but I didn't have any head and it didn't feel like a concussion."
No offense to Crosby's medical training but that is why team's have professional doctors and trainers on staff to determine those things and maybe the NHL has to go the route of the NFL that any time a player hits his head he has to be concussion tested in order to prevent guys from playing with them until they get severe.  Personally from listening to Sidney today the one week timetable that was laid out seems awfully optimistic and at least on that count Crosby certainly seems to understand the need to wait until he is actually ready to be back to avoid getting another one.
Also I know the media has a job to do and without it I would not have this video to share with you of his comments, but which person thought it was a bright idea to take a guy with a concussion and stick numerous TV cameras and lights in his eyes?
Full Video via