The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Sidney Crosby "hasn't been cleared yet by the medical staff" for his offseason workout regimen. While this is not the end of world for Pittsburgh Penguin fans, it is another in a long series of disappointments over the heath of the Superstar Captain.
After the Penguins were dismissed from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Crosby admitted to the media that he had suffered a setback by experiencing "symptoms" that forced his on-ice workouts to cease during the first playoff series. To borrow a line from the fan-favorite The Pensblog, we were "stunned" by the news.
Any fan of the Penguins or Crosby should have some level of concern at the recent developments, despite the fact that all parties involved remain "optimistic" that Crosby will return to a normal offseason routine and return for the 2011-2012 season.
A bigger concern than when Sid returns, is what will happen if he's hit or targeted at that point? If you cheered or yawned in apathy when Matt Cooke nearly killed Boston's Marc Savard two seasons ago, perhaps you should sit this debate out.
Unfortunately, the NHL has not taken advantage of this situation as an opportunity to strengthen the rules and institute a league-wide ban on head shots. Dean of Discipline Colin Campbell has ineffectively handed out punishments at the end of the season and during the playoffs, adding to further confusion.
Campbell indicates that playoff games are "worth more," thus the suspension is less. But if a player such as the Penguins' Chris Kunitz is guilty of attempting to target the head of a Lightning forward (which he was), and if that player was injured, the games he could miss would also be "worth more" to his team. So by extension, should this not result in longer suspensions instead of shorter ones?
NHL officials believe that enforcing the interference, charging, boarding and blindside rules in a more consistent manner will reduce the problem. They have gone so far to say that the NHL is a physical game, and head injuries are just not going to be completely removed from the game without drastically altering the way it is played.
They may be right, but hockey fans everywhere should cringe each time a player receives a head shot. These injuries have the potential to end careers and, even worse, ruin lives. Whether the target is Sidney Crosby or a minor league player on call-up, it's a black eye for the sport. Here's to hoping the powers that be will come to their senses before it is too late.