Crosby wants to be smart about concussion recovery (VIDEO)

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The bad news is that Sidney Crosby‘s been down this road with concussions before. The good news is that he’s taken lessons from those tough memories.

Look, there’s no doubt that it’s going to sting for Crosby to sit out tonight’s season-opener for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

They’re raising their Stanley Cup banner, and even if you roll your eyes at Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin talk, there’s little sense denying the Washington Capitals’ position as one of the East’s favorites. It likely burns to watch such an electric game in street clothes.

That said, Crosby’s learned a thing or two since suffering that fateful concussion against David Steckel in 2011.

One might accuse the Penguins and Crosby of rushing back into things that time around, but Crosby’s saying all the right things about avoiding recurring symptoms this time around.

Now, that might be easier said than done – as he admits, every head injury is different – yet it’s heartening that the superstar is taking a cautious approach.

More on Crosby’s concussion situation and history

It’s a good sign that he’s at least practicing

Crosby insists the injury didn’t happen at the injury-heavy World Cup

His previous concussions inspire us to ask: “What if?”

NHL plans on fining teams who violate new concussion protocol

CALGARY, AB - APRIL 7: Dennis Wideman #6 of the Calgary Flames is helped up after colliding with Sam Gagner (not pictured) of the Arizona Coyotes during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on April 7, 2015 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

There are times when the NHL’s concussion protocols feel as toothless as its most rugged players. Perhaps that might change starting in 2016-17?

The league backed up reports that additional “concussion spotters” will oversee games in addition to team-specific ones, but this section of the press release shows the most promise:

Specified sanctions will be imposed on Clubs that violate the Concussion Protocol. Clubs that do not remove a Player who requires an evaluation will be subject to a mandatory minimum fine for a first offense, with substantially increased fine amounts for any subsequent offense. Additionally, any Player designated for a mandatory evaluation will not be permitted to re-enter the game unless and until he is evaluated by his Club’s medical staff and cleared to play in accordance with the Protocol.

Interestingly, the league also revealed that on-ice officials can call for a player’s removal if he shows “visible signs of [a] concussion.”

Perhaps these measures won’t be perfect, yet they feel like legitimate improvements after half-measures and tweaks that seemed ineffectual.

Granted,’s Nick Cotsonika notes that Gary Bettman discussed fining teams for violating concussion protocol in 2014 as well, so we’ll have to see about the follow-through with these tweaks.

(Critics may wonder if concussion-related lawsuits inspired these greater measures, but either way, progress is progress.)

While we may quibble with the way the NHL polices hits, helping players avoiding further injury could be a very nice step in the right direction.

Again, though, we won’t know for sure until we see the new measures in action.

Concussions have made Sidney Crosby’s career a story of ‘what ifs’

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New York Rangers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 18, 2015 in New York City. The Penguins defeated the Rangers 4-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It was announced on Monday that Pittsburgh Penguins captain is sidelined for the time being with a concussion. At this point we do not know much beyond that.

We don’t know when exactly it happened (coach Mike Sullivan said at some point in practice on Friday), how it happened, or how long it could potentially keep him out of the Penguins’ lineup.

Even without knowing the exact specifics, given how much time Crosby has already missed in his career due to a concussion it has to be a huge concern for both his health and his career.

Because of the previous issues, which all started during the week of the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh when he took hits to the head from Dave Steckel and Victor Hedman in consecutive games, we already missed the chance to fully see what Crosby was going to be capable of in the NHL during what should have been his peak years in the league. If you buy into the belief that scorers produce at their peak levels between the ages of 23 and 25 (and there is plenty of evidence to suggest they do) Crosby was only able to play 99 out of a possible 212 games during that stretch due to complications from injury and a half season lockout.

It has already helped make his career one of the all-time great “what-if” careers in hockey.

When he was on the ice during those seasons he was scoring at a pace that was at a completely different level from every player in hockey. For those three years he averaged 1.61 points per game. Among the players that played in at least 50 games during those three years, nobody else averaged more than 1.20 points per game. The gap between him and the No. 2 scorer (his teammate, Evgeni Malkin) was the same as the gap between the No. 2 scorer and the No. 49 scorer. It probably cost him a couple of more scoring titles, maybe an MVP award, and perhaps even another Stanley Cup.

When he finally returned, there was always the concern that it would be an issue going forward. When his scoring numbers started to drop (probably due to the fact he was simply getting older than anything else) there always seemed to be a discussion that the concussion “changed” him or the way he played.

But as he remained on the ice and was able to play full seasons, those concerns started to get pushed to the back burner, especially as he started to dominate the NHL again.

Over those three years he added another scoring title and MVP award to his resume, and then won a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy this past season. He added to the list of achievements this September when he led Canada to a World Cup of Hockey championship.

Now that he has climbed back to the top of the hockey world and was in the middle of what might have been one of the most successful years of his career, he has another concussion.

And with that returns the concern for his long-term health and the impact it could have on him as a person and player.

Sidney Crosby diagnosed with concussion

SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 12:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins is presented with the Conn Smythe Trophy by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman after their 3-1 victory to win the Stanley Cup against the San Jose Sharks in Game Six of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center on June 12, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Sidney Crosby, in the midst of arguably the most successful year of his NHL career, has been dealt a significant blow — on Monday, the Penguins announced he’s been diagnosed with a concussion.

More, from the club:

Crosby sat out Saturday’s preseason game vs. Columbus because he was not feeling well, and missed practice today to undergo concussion testing.

Crosby’s status will be updated when more information is available. The Penguins open the regular season Thursday night against Washington at PPG Paints Arena.

Sullivan added that Crosby’s concussion occurred on Friday at practice.

Crosby’s history with concussions is well documented. He missed 11 months of action in 2011 after suffering one during the Winter Classic, briefly returned, then sat out another significant length of time dealing with post-concussion symptoms.

He told reporters that, during what was a slow and lengthy recovery, he wondered if his playing days were over.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I thought about it,” Crosby said, per the Globe and Mail.

Crosby, 29, captured the second Stanley Cup of his career in June, winning the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP. He then captained Team Canada to gold at the recently-wrapped World Cup of Hockey, and picked up MVP honors at that tournament as well.

Despite another concussion, Clarke MacArthur doesn’t plan on retiring

OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 26:  Clarke MacArthur #16 of the Ottawa Senators looks on prior to a face-off in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Montreal Canadiens during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 26, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Ottawa Senators by defeating them 2-0 and move to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Clarke MacArthur suffered yet another concussion after being hit by Patrick Sieloff during a scrimmage over the weekend, but the veteran Ottawa Senators forward doesn’t plan on retiring.

Last season, the 31-year-old MacArthur played in only four games for the Senators due to concussions. According to the Ottawa Sun, he suffered four concussions in an 18th-month span.

Despite this latest concussion, MacArthur is still, at least publicly, planning to work toward a return to game action, saying in a post on Instagram that he was “encouraged” by how his body has reacted following this most recent incident.

“First off, I want to thank the team and its fans for all the support after the unfortunate incident on Sunday. To me, it was simply a hockey play that ended in a hit causing me to suffer a concussion, a play that could happen at any point,” MacArthur wrote on his social media page.

“We have been encouraged by how my body had reacted in the days since the injury and the team has been great to give me all the time I need to rest and recover. I will continue to consult with doctors and my entire support group, but I felt it important to let everyone know that my intentions are to work towards returning to the ice soon.”


Senators focus on MacArthur’s safety