Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Crosby plays on after scare of head-first crash

FILE - In this May 13, 2013, file photo, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30), from Sweden, greets Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), from Russian Federation, after Game 7 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff hockey series in Washington.

The proof is hanging in the closet in Bruce Peters' home in Waldorf, Maryland, about 30 miles away from where the Presidents' Trophy winners will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 on Wednesday night with a spot in the Eastern Conference finals at stake. That would be Game Five of the Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals series, which averaged 4.365 million viewers in total audience delivery (TV plus digital).

After two dominant performances by the Washington Capitals in Games 5 and 6, the Pittsburgh Penguins have now found themselves in a decisive Game 7 against the best team in hockey.

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel have been fantastic offensively in the playoffs. The concussion was Crosby's fourth.

One of the effects of numerous concussions is that the threshold for future head injuries is lower, two concussion experts told The Washington Post last week. There are studies that outline the impact of repeated blows to the head that result in concussions, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The Penguins handled the Blue Jackets 4-1 in Round 1, scoring three goals or more in all five games. Concussions and their long-term implications are among the hottest-button issues in sports.

It would seem that the NHL's concussion policy needs its own evaluation.

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Penguins coach Mike Sullivan offered no excuses after the defending champions fluffed another chance to wrap up the series. "Those are two separate things".

"When you go in like that, it just kind of knocked the wind out of me", said Crosby, who played on and finished his shift.

"There shouldn't be any wondering about it", Crosby said. It could also be seen as reckless, dangerous, and failing to give proper attention to the single most important thing of all: health.

The protocol requires mandatory removal - and it's actually in bold and underlined typeface - should a player report any one of a series of symptoms, including a headache or dizziness or nausea or disorientation.

And the concussion spotter didn't notice any of the key signs to look out for, including laying motionless on the ice, and balance problems. Pittsburgh had trouble executing even the simplest of plays.

That would appear to match the "slow to get up" criterion in the league's list. Nope. He was back on the ice. The sequence started when Crosby, Capitals defenceman John Carlson and teammate Patric Hornqvist tumbled behind the Capitals' net, and it left Crosby shaken.

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If I had access to Crosby, I would probably only get to ask one question because I doubt he would want to answer it and I would get escorted out. That's when the Penguins take control. That's a blink of the eye in your day.

When I was young, I played baseball and I was in a league with future MLB pitcher Ryan Dempster. If there is so much concern about Crosby and history of concussions, why in the hell is the coaching staff, the Penguins doctors, and the owners of the Penguins letting Crosby get back out there?

Uh, why in the world would there be specific "mechanisms" by which a player must be injured that require his removal, but the dozens of other ways a hockey player could become concussed - say, slamming headfirst into the boards, for instance - aren't covered? "And so you shouldn't restrict your spotters".

Game 6 brought the return of the famed "HBK" line and several other changes but the line shakeups offered no reward as the Caps shut down the Pens all night. Crosby once again made that assertion, telling reporters that a doctor evaluated him after the first period and decided he didn't need to be put into the concussion protocol.

But there's a flaw here, at least one.

Hockey players are known for being tough but keeping Crosby out on the ice with his history of head injuries feels borderline reckless.

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