Even though he finished the 2011-12 NHL season in good health, the Pittsburgh Penguins should still be worried that Sidney Crosby won't be able to play out the entirety of his new 12-year contract worth $104.4 million, which begins this year.
Crosby is the league's best player, but his recent health problems have to be a huge concern for general manager Ray Shero and the rest of the Penguins organization after the team committed a ton of money to its franchise player for a very long time.
Given his injury history and the physical nature of the sport, the odds that Crosby finishes his new contract are likely slim.
There are a number of players who have suffered a concussion, missed a lot of games because of it, returned to the NHL, and have been fortunate enough to not suffer another injury as severe.
Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins is one example of a player who missed many games because of a concussion, came back to the sport and continued his career development.
Unfortunately for the Penguins, not many players suffer through multiple injuries in the head/neck area and play better hockey than they did before the injury struggles.
Crosby played just half of the 2010-11 season and only 22 games last year. If Crosby gets hurt again and has trouble getting on the ice consistently, the Penguins will no longer be a Stanley Cup contender.
Reigning Hart trophy winner Evgeni Malkin, top defenseman Kris Letang, and star goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury are all great players, but without their captain, winning another championship isn't going to happen for Pittsburgh.
With the Penguins already having a championship-caliber roster, along with several impressive prospects for the future, Crosby having to miss games during the team's best opportunity for more Stanley Cup titles would be tragic for Pittsburgh.
It would be awful for hockey if Crosby's career ended in a similar way that Eric Lindros' did. Crosby's contributions to the sport and the excitement he brings to the ice each night would be sorely missed if he had to retire too early.