Friday, August 26, 2011

Sidney Crosby's Concussion Issue Huge Headache For NHL

Love him or hate him, NHL fans should know that not having Sidney Crosby on the ice when the NHL season starts on October 6 is bad for business.

However, that's a very real possibility as Crosby attempts to recover from a concussion suffered almost eight months ago.  It wasn't so much that the one concussion Crosby is known to have suffered following a hit by 6'6" Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Viktor Hedman was a bad one.  No, the issue is whether or not he was already skating with a concussion suffered a week earlier.

At the end of the second period of the Winter Classic, Crosby was on the ice and looking away when Washington Capitol forward Dave Steckman delivered an unintentional hard hit to the side of Crosby's head with his shoulder as he skated past:

Any neurologist can tell you that suffering a concussion while still feeling the effects of the first concussion is a very, very bad thing.  One of the worst case scenarios for what can happen is a condition called Second Impact Syndrome.  In SIS, the brain can rapidly swell and trigger seizures, brain damage, and even death.  Both of Crosby's hits were bad enough, but happening so close together, he's very lucky that he didn't suffer more serious problems.

So why is this so bad for the NHL as a whole?

  • Crosby most likely had concussion symptoms after the first hit in the Winter Classic.  Just his demeanor after the hit lets you know that he was "rocked" by that play, and he was only hit in the head.  Did he simply not say anything because of a tough-guy code in the NHL where players run off the ice for a few minutes to get stitches and then are back playing?
  • If Crosby doesn't tell trainers of symptoms related to a possible concussion, why would anyone else? Are there more potential players about to be knocked out of a season or their careers because they don't report a concussion in a timely manner?
  • Crosby is arguably the most popular NHL player, and has led NHL jersey sales since he first entered the league in the '05-'06 season.  Having your top player miss over half of the 2010-2011 season was bad enough, but if continues to miss more games this year that is most definitely a hit to the sport.
Bottom-line, however, is that Sidney Crosby should not (and won't) return to the ice to play until he is fully capable and no longer having concussion symptoms.  Rumors flew this week that his symptoms returned when his workouts got up to 90%.  While it's disconcerting to think that he's had another relapse, the good news is that he was up to 90% effort before the symptoms returned.  Hopefully that means a full recovery is soon.

No comments: