(Author’s note: Before reading this, please note the title and fake date of the post. This is not something I want to happen, or am predicting will happen. Its something that I really hope is completely wrong. However from what we have learned about concussions, is a possibility.)
It’s interesting that on a day that we usually would be talking about Ryan Nugent Hopkins pursuit of 50 goals in 50 games, we have another former first overall pick hanging up his skates.
It’s now official; Sidney Crosby is retiring from the NHL. The news broke early this morning via a news release from the Pittsburgh Penguins. No press conference, no tears, no send-off. Just a one line email from the Penguins saying the following: “Due to his constant battles with concussions, Sidney Crosby has decided to retire from the NHL effective immediately”
With those words comes sadness at never having been able to see a fully healthy Sidney Crosby play for an extended period of time. After dominating junior hockey, he was selected first overall by Pittsburgh. 5 seasons into his career (and at the tender age of 24) he had already accomplished what most would consider a phenomenal career. Stanley Cup Winner. Olympic Gold Medal. Hart, Art Ross and Lester B Pearson trophies.
Then came the 2010-11 NHL season. Crosby came out to scorching pace and by the midway point of the season was dominating the scoring race. On January 1st he was hit by David Steckel at the Winter Classic outdoor game. He not only finished that game, but was on the ice for the Penguins next game against Tampa Bay. In that game he took a hit from Victor Hedmen and was diagnosed with a concussion. That concussion would put him on the shelf for 11 months.
Crosby’s return to the ice was national news in Canada. Like he had done in most of his career he didn’t disappoint putting up 4 points in his first game back. He had 12 points in 8 games when the news broke that we all feared.
Sidney Crosby would miss the next 2 games as a precaution.
2 games turned into indefinitely, and indefinitely turned into the remainder of the season.
The following year Crosby proclaimed himself ready for training camp, but what seemed like routine body contact from one of his teammates caused him to once again suffer from post concussion symptoms. He would miss the entire 2012-13 season.
The NHL tried time and time again to try and put an end to head shots. They continued to alter rule 48 to a point where any headshot (accidental or not) was met with SEVERE punishment (case in point, Matt Cooke’s 1 year ban). Brendan Shanahan’s videos were now a daily occurrence and the suspensions got longer and longer.
Crosby was once again cleared for contact 20 games into the 2013-14 NHL season, but didn’t end up playing until game 46. He picked up 2 assists in 2 games before the symptoms returned and once again, he was done for the season.
At the advice of Penguins owner Mario Lemiuex, Crosby announced he would be taking the entire 2014-15 season off. There would be no media or fans asking him daily about his return or watching his every move at practice. Little did we know just how long Sid the Kid would be off.
After taking the season off, Crosby had still not been cleared for contact and at the urging of friends and family, reluctantly retired from the NHL . The press conference was less about sadness, and more about anger. “When people look back at my career, they won’t talk about my accomplishments” Crosby said “They will talk about how my concussions and the time I didn’t play. That angers me off. It makes me angry because I never got a chance to fully write the story of my career”. When Crosby was asked about Alexander Ovechkin winning his first Stanley Cup (and Conn Smyth trophy) , Crosby’s response was brief, “Congrats to him”. The Pens retired Crosby’s number and put it right next to Mario Lemieux’s #66
Two seasons passed and Crosby pretty much stayed out of the spotlight even when Penguins would win the 2017 Stanley Cup. That was until he was spotted working out with Gary Roberts, and looking to be in pretty good shape. When asked about it, Crosby simply said “I just want to get into shape, no big deal”. A week later pictures circulated around the internet of Crosby on the ice practicing. (and word spread faster than usual thanks to nooner.com’s new social media technology that all but put Twitter out of business)
“We are very pleased to announce that Sidney Crosby will be returning to the ice”
In a ceremony that reminded Pens fans of Mario Lemieux’s first return after retirement, Crosby’s #87 was lowered from the rafters. 4 time Art Ross Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin returned the Captain “C” to Crosby and for the first time since 2014, Crosby would be back on the ice. However, while the return lasted longer than his previous two attempts, he was just not the same player. In 36 games he had just 17 points, was averaging just 12 minutes a game in ice time, and was not on the first or second power play unit. Then when cutting towards the net, he was tripped up (ironically by David Steckel) and crashed into the boards suffering his final concussion.
That brings us to today’s news. Unfortunately, Crosby was correct, fans will look back at his career and talk about concussions. He will fall into the “If only he stayed healthy his entire career” category. Athletes like Ken Griffey Junior, Mario Lemieux and Peyton Manning can relate. This news comes on January 5th, exactly 7 years to the day since he was first diagnosed with a concussion.
Before we get to the links, 2 reminders
1) Justin Bourne will have a full 24/ recap up today
2) We will do a special 24/7 recap podcast today as well
OK…now to the links
The Lightning continue their ugly season (Pro hockey Talk)
There can’t be anything worse than losing a player for 6 to 8 weeks becasue of a line change (Puck Daddy)
Some VERY interesting news about Dale Hunter’s contract (Washington Post)
I have participated in pretty much every kind of hockey pool there is, at least I THOUGHT I did (Dirty Dangle)
Jeremy Roenick’s son dancing…for serious (Barry Melrose Rocks)
This is a very in-depth pictorial history of Darryl Sutter (The Royal Half)
I have a feeling Ondrej Pavelec won’t be getting too many Christmas gifts from the forwards on the Jets (Winnipeg Sun)
On The Forecheck breaks down teams strength of schedule. Interesting stats here that are sometimes ignored
Russian hockey has reached a milestone (voice of Russia)
and I love a good Kronwall hit…this is NOT one of them. You simply can’t do this