Are we witnessing the concluding chapter of Sidney Crosby's hockey career?
On December 12, it was announced that Crosby will be out indefinitely after experiencing concussion-like symptoms again.
He has missed the Penguins’ last two games and will miss Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.
In total, Crosby has played only eight games this year after missing most of last season and this season with a concussion sustained in last year’s Winter Classic.
Fans of Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Team Canada, put down your pompoms for one minute.
At only 24 years old, Crosby’s trophy case is already full, having won the Stanley Cup, an Olympic Gold Medal and a World Junior Championship. He's also won the Hart Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy, the Lester B. Pearson Award and the Rocket Richard Trophy.
There isn’t much left for him to accomplish beyond winning multiple trophies and going for records.
But trophies and records won’t help you take your kids to the park or go grocery shopping with your wife.
The New York Times recently published a well written story on the brain analysis conducted on the late NHL enforcer, Derek Boogaard. It concluded that Boogaard had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a close relative of Alzheimer’s disease.
Had Boogaard lived longer than 28 years, he would have eventually developed dementia.
Crosby’s concussion problems are likely not as bad as those commonly suffered by enforcers, but we’re talking about someone’s brain here.
It deserves some sober second thought, especially since Crosby is so young—only four years younger than Boogaard was when he died from a combination of alcohol and painkillers.
The NHL obviously does not want to lose their golden child; the popularity of hockey has rested on Crosby’s shoulders since 2005.
But Crosby has likely made more than enough money from both his playing salary and endorsement deals with Reebok, Bell, Tim Hortons and Gatorade to comfortably retire.
It's obvious that Crosby’s retirement would have a huge impact on the game of hockey and leave people wondering what could have been (as was the case with players like Eric Lindros and Bobby Orr), but the alternative is the possibility of reduced brain function in the future.
It would be wise for Crosby to take a serious look at his priorities and decide to put his health first. His place in hockey history is already assured.