NBCSN presents ‘Game Changers’ featuring Gretzky, Lemieux, Orr, Crosby and Toews

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This Wednesday at midnight ET, NBCSN will debut NHL Game Changers | All-Time Greats, a 30-minute roundtable discussion featuring Stanley Cup champions and NHL legends Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews.

The show will be hosted by NHL on NBC play-by-play man Mike “Doc” Emrick.

“I thought it would take the mythological hockey gods and a handful of thunderbolts to get these five together in one room, and for me to have a seat among them,” Emrick said. “I was wrong about the gods and thunderbolts. We just needed our Executive Producer, the very much alive Sam Flood.

“As we walked onto the set, I mentioned to Bobby… ‘If I’d never done a Stanley Cup Final before, this would be it!’ This experience is one of my all-time hockey memories. I hope it is for the viewers as well.”

Filmed in Los Angeles during NHL All-Star Weekend, Gretzky, Orr, Lemieux, Crosby, and Toews discuss a wide range of topics including the current state of the sport, playing in the Olympics, winning the Stanley Cup, Connor McDavid and other up-and-coming NHL stars, what it would have been like to play against each other, and Orr’s famous 1970 Stanley Cup winning goal.

The show will air following NBCSN’s coverage of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final, as Crosby’s Penguins travel to Ottawa to take on the Senators.

Future airings will occur throughout the remainder of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Crosby says he was cleared by Penguins medical staff after crashing into boards

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Sidney Crosby did not go through the league’s formal concussion protocol after crashing into the boards last night in Pittsburgh; however, the Penguins captain insisted today that he was checked out and cleared to play by the team’s medical staff.

“As far as being checked by a doctor, yes, absolutely,” Crosby said, per the Tribune-Review. “Any guy who goes into the boards like that, the first thing is trainer and then the doctor.”

Head coach Mike Sullivan said after the game that Crosby was not evaluated for a concussion. But what he meant to say, apparently, is that Crosby did not go through the protocol.

“The medical staff and (concussion) spotters are responsible for identifying players to go through protocol,” Sullivan clarified, per USA Today. “If they go through protocol, I usually get notified by our medical staff. I did not. That’s the process. It’s completely out of our control as coaches.”

According to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, crashing into the boards and getting up slowly is not grounds to be forced into the protocol by concussion spotters — even though Crosby was recently diagnosed with a concussion.

Crosby couldn’t have been removed by concussion spotters

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Even though he looked shaken up, and even though he was just diagnosed with a concussion, Sidney Crosby was not eligible to be removed from the game by concussion spotters after he went crashing into the boards last night in Pittsburgh.

From USA Today:

Crosby was slow to get off the ice after he became entangled with Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and defenseman John Carlson in the first period of a 5-2 loss to the Caps in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal. Under the current concussion policy, the league’s central concussion spotter only would have been able to force Crosby out had his head hit the ice or another player.

“Depending on the mechanism of injury, ‘slow to get up’ does not trigger mandatory removal,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told USA TODAY Sports. “The protocol has to be interpreted literally to mandate a removal. ‘Ice’ as compared to ‘boards’ is in there for a reason. It’s the result of a study on our actual experiences over a number of years. ‘Ice’ has been found to be a predictor of concussions — ‘boards’ has not been.”

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan confirmed after the game that Crosby was not evaluated for a concussion, while Crosby said he just got the wind knocked out of him.

Irrespective of the league’s study, it seems bizarre that concussion spotters were powerless to do anything last night simply because Crosby went crashing into the boards, as opposed to hitting his head on the ice.

Boards are pretty hard, too.

Crosby, Sheary pass baseline concussion tests, will be game-time decisions

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The Pittsburgh Penguins could have Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary back in the lineup on Saturday night for Game 5 of their second-round series against the Washington Capitals.

Coach Mike Sullivan announced on Saturday morning that both players passed their baseline concussion tests and will be game-time decisions. Sullivan added that Crosby has “had a number of positive days.”

Both players missed Game 4 of the series — which the Penguins won 3-2 to take a 3-1 series lead — due to concussions. Crosby was injured when he was cross-checked in the head by Matt Niskanen early in the first period of Game 3. Niskanen was given a five-minute major for cross-checking and ejected from the game but received no additional discipline from the NHL.

Sheary was knocked out of the same game following a collision with teammate Patric Hornqvist in the second period.

Both players were full participants in practice on Friday, with Crosby taking his spot on the top-line between Jake Guentzel and Hornqvist.

Sheary skated on the third line alongside Nick Bonino and Bryan Rust.

Crosby has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in eight playoff games, including two goals and two assists in this series.

Crosby won’t rule out playing Game 5

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After returning to practice on Friday and participating in full contact drills, Sidney Crosby looked like a guy ready to resume playing.

Then, he talked like one.

Despite suffering a concussion in Game 3 of Pittsburgh’s series against Washington and sitting out Game 4, Crosby wouldn’t rule out returning for Saturday’s potential series clincher.

“I feel good. You know, right now just kind of following what I’m told to do,” Crosby said of his recovery and plans for Game 5, per TSN. “We’ll see. I don’t want to rule it out. It’s not really up to me.”

Pens head coach Mike Sullivan was, not surprisingly, very non-committal about Crosby’ availability. He said the team would wait to see how the captain responds to today’s practice, noting that Crosby’s day-to-day status “hasn’t changed at all.”

Further to his health, Crosby said there was no knee or other lower-body injury on the controversial play that concussed him. There was some concern when he twisted awkwardly while falling after Alex Ovechkin‘s slash, then got knocked to the ice by Matt Niskanen‘s crosscheck.

No. 87 then addressed the incidents that led to his concussion.

He called the Ovechkin slash “a pretty common play” but stopped sort of classifying Niskanen’s in a similar fashion.

“It’s hard to say,” Crosby said. “I’m not going to sit here and guess, but it’s not one that happens often.”

In other Penguins news, fellow forward Conor Sheary — also currently sidelined with a concussion — made his return to practice today, and also took full contact. Like Crosby, Sheary wasn’t ruling out a return for Game 5.

“Mentally, I just have to be prepared to play if I get that call,” he told the Tribune-Review.