Back To The Crosby Watch
This was supposed to be over. But it's anything but over.
Just a week after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman blithely dismissed findings linking a serious brain condition (CTE) to hockey, the league got a stark reminder today that brain injuries (formerly known by the more benign term concussions) are still the No. 1 issue facing the sport with a setback to Sidney Crosby's comeback.
Crosby didn't want to make that big of a deal about it. But he couldn't practice, or didn't feel well enough to practice, and admitted he was a bit confused by it all. No big hit, nothing like the David Steckel collision, yet symptoms are back and everyone who loves the sport is worried.
Primarily, it brings into question something many people were surprised at, and that was the contention of Crosby's doctors during an August press conference that once he returned at "100 per cent," he would not be a compromised athlete. In other words, he would be no more susceptible to further brain injuries, so it was stated, than a player who had never had a single concussion.
For several weeks and eight games, we had reason to believe that was true. Crosby seemed just as good as ever, and in fact, he seemed a little chippier and more aggressive, as Nick Foligno and David Krejci would agree.
But now it's all on hold again, and rather than Crosby being no more likely to get another concussion than anyone else, he seems to have re-injured himself without a major collision. That was the same thing that happened to Matthew Lombardi of the Maple Leafs last season while with Nashville, and Lombardi has returned, so there's no reason to believe yet that Crosby can't come back again, and soon.
But is this to be a recurring theme? More important, you have to wonder if Crosby will have to significantly alter his style of play to be able to play all the time, whether his ability to play in the nastiest traffic the game can offer will have to be something of the past in order to keep himself available to the Pittsburgh Penguins on a regular basis.
Questions and more questions. We're back to that for the world's best player.