Tag: post-concussion syndrome


Columnist: Sidney Crosby’s “doomsday clock is ticking”


Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby’s year-plus struggle with concussion issues has taken a few big turns for the worse, particularly in the short-term. With the most visible NHL player hitting another disconcerting wall, the Vancouver Sun’s Cam Cole wonders if his “doomsday clock is ticking.”

Well, if doomsday means not being quite the same player as he once was:

Crosby, we hope, has much more to give hockey, and in a perfect world, the concussion woes never return after he’s shaken this latest nightmare.

But it doesn’t take much imagination to envision a different picture, of a diminished, cautious Crosby returning whenever he decides he’s able, but never again quite as recklessly exuberant and commanding on the ice as Sid The Kid used to be before the shadow descended.

However it turns out, whenever and in whatever form he comes back, he will never be that kid again.

It’s reasonable to worry about Crosby at this point, especially when you think about the fact that he earned many of his goals by going to the “dirty areas” of the ice.

A parallel in patiencesource: Getty Images

Yet if you’re looking for an example for optimism, perhaps Crosby’s path has some parallels to a similar one traveled by his buddy Patrice Bergeron. Much like Crosby, Bergeron accomplished a lot (albeit not as much, naturally) at a young age. Concussions derailed his career for at least a season, however, and it generally seems like the Boston Bruins forward been through a heck of a lot for a guy who’s just 26 years old.

(In fact, many hockey fans will utter a similar refrain with Bergeron: “He’s just 26?“)

Now, some might see Bergeron as a two-time 70+ point player turned 50+ point guy, but he’s become one of the league’s best two-way forwards. Maybe he’s not exactly the same player who scored more points on teams that asked more of him, but he’s back to being a high-level contributor. Some might even say he morphed into a better player in the big picture.

It just didn’t happen right away.

So feel free to worry a bit about Crosby’s health – it’s reasonable to wonder – but don’t forget that the increasingly rapid news cycle has a way of making this problem seem that much worse. This ordeal began on Jan. 1, 2011, after all.

In other words, at 24 years old, it’s probably a little hasty to claim that his ceiling will be forever lowered.

Peter Mueller could play for Avalanche on Thursday


It’s been a tough couple seasons for Colorado Avalanche forward Peter Mueller, but there might be a little light at the end of the tunnel. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater reports that Mueller has been activated from the injured reserve and might even play against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

Mueller has been struggling with concussion issues ever since Rob Blake caught him with a brutal hit toward the end of the 2009-10 campaign. He missed all of the 2010-11 season and barely played in this one before those problems came crawling back.

There was (and let’s be honest, to some extent, still is) some concern that his career was in danger of being over altogether, so if he could play most or all of this season’s remaining games, it would be one of the feel-good stories in hockey.

Rangers ease Marc Staal in as he returns in Winter Classic


For the second Winter Classic in a row, a Staal brother made a surprising return from injury. Marc Staal actually received less ice time than Jordan did in the 2011 Winter Classic, but the New York Rangers were still heartened to see their crucial defenseman back in action in the 2012 edition.

Andrew Gross reports that Marc Staal made the call during dinner last night after a stomach-churning week of pondering the choice. After “writing off” the possibility of coming back on Jan. 2 for quite some time, Staal began to ponder playing once concussion specialist Dr. Robert Cantu cleared him for contact a week ago.

Henrik Lundqvist said that Staal’s return “gives the whole team confidence,” even though it was clear that head coach John Tortorella was easing him back into the mix. Staal received 12:41 of ice time, which is well off his 25:44 minutes per game average from last season. Still, Staal said that he felt more comfortable as the Winter Classic went along, as you can see from this video from his post-game press conference.

Claude Giroux pushes hard for a swift return

Claude Giroux

Once the Philadelphia Flyers admitted that Claude Giroux’s unlucky accident with Wayne Simmonds resulted in a concussion, there were serious concerns that he’d be out for a long time. If you believe his most optimistic claims, Giroux might come back soon enough to maintain his spot* atop the NHL’s points scoring list.

That being said, Flyers fans are likely relieved that he told CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio that he won’t try to come back too soon, either.

“I go day-by-day … If it’s the Rangers or even Christmas, I don’t see why to push it. It’s December,” Giroux said. “I’m aware of what could happen if I come back too fast. My reaction could be slower. The coaching staff and [trainer] Jim [McCrossin] are making sure I don’t rush into it.”

The Flyers have an unfortunate recent history of bright futures cut short by hasty returns from concussion issues, most famously in the case of Eric Lindros. Fans of the game want to see Giroux back as soon as possible, but Philly would be wise to take the long view with their 23-year-old star.

* – Giroux is tied with Phil Kessel for the league lead with 39 points despite playing in five fewer games.

Flyers shut down Chris Pronger for season, playoffs

Chris Pronger

Flyers fans’ worst fear has been confirmed: the team just announced that Chris Pronger will sit out the rest of the season and playoffs because of severe post-concussion syndrome. Here’s the official statement:

“After consultation with respected concussion specialists Dr. Joseph Maroon and Dr. Micky Collins, it is the opinion of both doctors that Chris is suffering from severe post-concussion syndrome. It is the recommendation of Doctors Maroon and Collins that Chris not return to play for the Philadelphia Flyers for the remainder of the 2011-12 season or playoffs.  Chris will continue to receive treatment and therapy with the hope that he can get better.”

Obviously, this is an enormous blow to the Flyers. A healthy Pronger is a huge difference-maker. That much was evident in the 2010 playoffs when the team came two wins short of a Stanley Cup despite interchanging between Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton in net. You can make a reasonable argument that Pronger deserved a Conn Smythe nod on three different occasions, so there’s no doubt he’ll be sorely missed.

The bigger worries go beyond this season, though. Pronger has a 35+ contract, so Philly will be on the hook for his $4.92 million cap hit through 2016-17 even if he retires. In a way, it seems like his health collapsed the second that regrettable deal became valid in 2010-11.

Hopefully Pronger will come back healthy – eventually – but considering his rugged style and severe mileage, his big-picture outlook is grim.