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)

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


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.

Sidney Crosby keeps piling up unanimous honors

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 29:  Sidney Crosby #87 of Team Canada looks on against Team Europe during the first period during Game Two of the World Cup of Hockey final series at the Air Canada Centre on September 29, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Sidney Crosby is on top of the hockey world right now.

TSN’s top 50 players list provides the latest example. Crosby wasn’t just the No. 1 choice for the network’s list; he was the unanimous choice.

It’s quite the impressive honor, but far from unusual as Crosby brings in an astounding mix of personal and team accolades.

The fun began when Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins roared through the 2016 postseason to win a Stanley Cup. In the process, Crosby earned Conn Smythe honors.

Moving on, Crosby was the – again that word – unanimous choice for World Cup of Hockey MVP after Canada stomped through the tournament. TSN notes the unquestioned greatness he’s enjoyed lately, between their poll and the polling from the World Cup:

He was the unanimous choice – 10 of 10 – for World Cup MVP. One day later, Crosby was the unanimous choice in our poll, making him 30 for 30 in the space of 24 hours.

Yeah, that’s pretty convincing.

Even after facing him in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, Logan Couture couldn’t help but lavish Crosby with praise after the World Cup.

“He really is the best player in the world,” Couture said, via the CBC. “It’s fun just to be able to watch him every day.”

Couture is just one of many people around the sport who can’t help but be awed by No. 87.


Crosby’s 2015-16 season stands as quite the testament to how perceptions can change. Earlier in the season, he was struggling to score and saw the Penguins fire their head coach.

In retrospect, Mike Sullivan’s system gelled far better with what Crosby & Co. needed to do to succeed, and the results came.

Injuries and other issues remind us that it isn’t always easy for Crosby. Right now, though, there’s very little disagreement about where the superstar stands.

(Until we see the comments, maybe.)

It was the Sidney Crosby show for Canada

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 17:  Sidney Crosby #87 of Team Canada eyes the puck during the second period while playing Team Czech Republic during the World Cup of Hockey at the Air Canada Center on September 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The 2015-16 campaign was a tale of two different seasons for Sidney Crosby.

There was the first season — the bad one — that covered the first 20 games where he had only 11 points and wasn’t even one of the top 120 scorers in the NHL.

It was at this point that his status as the NHL’s best player was questioned (it shouldn’t have been) and there was an endless “what’s wrong with Sidney Crosby” debate going on.

Then there was the second season — the good one! — that covered the remaining 62 games of the regular season where he had 74 points and was the leading scorer in the NHL during that stretch. He continued that level of play in the playoffs by playing a dominant two-way game and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy to help the Pittsburgh Penguins win their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history, and the second of the Crosby era.

That Sidney Crosby showed up on Saturday night in Canada’s 6-0 win over the Czech Republic in their 2016 World Cup opener.

Crosby only played 13 minutes in the win, but he made the most of those minutes, scoring a goal, adding two assists, recording five shots on goal and finishing as a plus-4. He was, quite simply, the best player on the ice every time he took a shift.

He spent most of his night on a line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, a trio that was dominant throughout the pre-tournament games and overwhelmed the Czech Republic on Saturday.

All three players scored a goal in the first period, with Crosby opening the scoring mid-way through the period from below the goal line. This is the angle he scored from.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 17: Sidney Crosby #87 of Team Canada scores at 8:26 of the first period against Michal Neuvirth #30 of Team Czech Republic during the World Cup of Hockey tournament at the Air Canada Centre on September 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 17: Sidney Crosby #87 of Team Canada scores at 8:26 of the first period against Michal Neuvirth #30 of Team Czech Republic during the World Cup of Hockey tournament at the Air Canada Centre on September 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

He assisted on Marchand’s goal later in the period and was also on the ice for Bergeron’s buzzer-beating goal to close out the period.

He completed his scoring when he set up Joe Thornton‘s second period goal with this incredible backhand pass through the slot.

When it comes to a full 82-game NHL schedule you probably should not expect Crosby to consistently score like he did four or five years ago, simply because he isn’t in his mid-20s anymore, the age where players tend to score at their peak levels. But he is still the best player in the game and is still going to have games like he had on Saturday where he not only takes over and dominates, but puts a bunch of points on the board.

Canada already has the best roster in the tournament on paper. When they also have the best player in hockey playing at the level he was at on Saturday, it is going to make them extremely difficult to beat.

Team Canada to sit Sidney Crosby in World Cup pre-tournament rematch with Team USA

France v Canada - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
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After long-time rivals Team Canada and Team USA renewed hostilities yesterday, the two teams meet again in a World Cup pre-tournament rematch on Saturday in Ottawa.

As per Hockey Canada on Saturday, coach Mike Babcock will sit team captain Sidney Crosby and defenseman Jake Muzzin for tonight’s game, which concludes a back-to-back set.

The physical play from Friday was a major topic of discussion, particularly after hits from Ryan Kesler on Shea Weber and T.J. Oshie on Logan Couture. Team USA tried targeting Crosby early in the game, which Weber took exception to.

Claude Giroux was on the receiving end of a big hit a split second after the whistle from Joe Pavelski.

After what transpired Friday, could the bad blood boil over to tonight’s contest? Or will cooler heads prevail?