Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby's Concussion Should Make NHL Rule Changes a No-Brainer

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 01:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins walks off the ice after being defeated 3-1 by the Washington Capitals during the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Heinz Field on January 1, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Martin AverySenior Writer IJanuary 30, 2011

"It's brutal," Sidney Crosby said of the headaches that still affect him, according to CBC TV.

I just hope and pray it doesn’t take the sight of the NHL’s No. 1 player in a wheelchair or laid out in a casket to make everyone stand up and take notice.

In the original six-team NHL, players were sometimes left bent and broken by on-ice hits and those blows left them crippled and physically challenged until their final days. Toronto Maple Leafs star Ace Bailey comes to mind. 

After taking a brutal hit in a game, he never played again. The Leafs gave him a job as a goal judge. The NHL created a benefit game for him, which turned into the annual All-Star event.

Crosby had to miss the NHL All-Star Game due to a concussion. Like Eric Lindros and his brother Brett, both driven from the game as a result of numerous concussions, some might suggest Crosby, at only 23, has already begun the slide down the slippery slope toward a forced early retirement.

NHL hockey could easily be made safer if they finally did something serious about hits to the head, whether intentional or accidental, through automatic suspensions and fines.

The NFL started doing that this fall to prevent injuries, and Canada's National Lacrosse League has been doing it for years.

The NHL made high-sticking punishable by two or four-minute penalties. They could easily do the same with headshots.

Not only would a tough rule against headshots help NHLers, it would have a trickle-down effect on junior hockey and every level of minor hockey, saving countless kids from serious injury.

Crosby was hit twice near the start of the New Year. First he was blindsided by a hit to the head from Washington Capitals forward David Steckel during the Jan. 1 Winter Classic outdoor game. And then he was hit head first into the boards by Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman in a Jan. 5 game. 

The resulting symptoms sidelined him for three weeks, and kept him out of nine regular games plus the All-Star Game.

The Pittsburgh Penguins captain has been out of action since Jan. 6 with a concussion. He was the All-Star Game's top vote-getter but is missing the National Hockey League's All-Star events.

Crosby was recently cleared for light workouts, off ice, and is expected to return to action. He has been battling headaches that restricted him from any sort of physical activity, on or off the ice.

The Penguins are off until Monday for the All-Star break, and their next game is Tuesday against the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden.

It’s nine games and counting for Crosby. The NHL scoring leader sits on the sidelines, attempting to recover from two head concussions suffered earlier this month.

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