Sidney Crosby, David Backes

Pittsburgh columnist asks how Penguins missed Crosby’s “broken neck”


The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Dejan Kovacevic — who has been at the forefront of the Sidney Crosby situation lately (see here) — has written a column asking some serious questions of the Penguins medical team.

Entitled “How do you miss a broken neck?,” Kovacevic wonders how Pittsburgh doctors failed to find Crosby’s fractured C1 and C2 vertebrae, especially after No. 87 complained of neck soreness after being hit by David Steckel at the 2011 Winter Classic.

More, from the Tribune-Review:

I’ve still got a couple of small questions based entirely on the two events just cited:



Fractures do get missed, even in the high-stakes world of sports medicine. Last summer, for example, the Pirates took embarrassingly too long to diagnose first baseman Derrek Lee and outfielder Jose Tabata with hairline fractures of the wrist.

But after the athlete complains on a global stage about “neck soreness?”

If [Dr. Robert] Bray’s findings are correct, the various people assembled by the Penguins and Crosby to treat his ailment have some serious explaining to do.

2. Fully healed?

The Penguins’ statement specifies that Bray deemed the vertebrae “fully healed,” which means he either peered back into Crosby’s past to determine they once were cracked, or the BROKEN NECK was found in the same week that it mystically healed itself in the California sunshine.

It’s understandable that the Penguins want other specialists to confirm a retroactive diagnosis.

But it’s telling, yet again, that the team and Crosby clearly still aren’t in sync on the issue of his health.

This misdiagnosis is reminiscent to that of a former Pennsylvania-based NHL star — Philadelphia’s Eric Lindros.

In 1999, Lindros suffered a collapsed lung in Nashville, which the Flyers’ team doctor misdiagnosed as a rib injury. The team wanted Lindros to board a flight back to Philly that night but, at the recommendation of teammate Keith Jones, Lindros went to the hospital, where doctors found the lung had collapsed.

The ramifications of the misdiagnosis were severe. Lindros harbored animosity towards the Flyers and the medical staff (it was believed had he boarded the flight, he would’ve died.) It was also the first step towards what became a very poisonous relationship between Lindros and the organization.

Take that into account with Crosby, then add this wrinkle — No. 87 has one year left on his deal with the Penguins.

Does this incident affect his decision to stay with the team?

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.