Does anyone have some Advil?

Posted: August 19, 2011 in NHL

This week as almost every hockey fan knows, it was reported that Sidney Crosby suffered another semi-setback in his recovery efforts from a concussion suffered this past NHL season. According to reports out of Pittsburgh, Penguins GM Ray Shero said that Crosby still suffers from concussion-like symptoms (ESPN). This begs the almighty question, is Sid the Kid done in the NHL?

Concussions have been the early exit for many players in the NHL, or just their exit period. Eric Lindros, his brother, Scott Stevens, Mike Richter, Keith Primeau, and a hand full of others have had to end their careers because of difficulties resulting from concussions suffered during their tenure in the league.

The issue is a very serious one as we are seeing more and more athletes suffer from concussions, in every sport not just hockey and the degree of the injuries are impossible to say with certainty. We have field tests that can be applied however we cannot do brain scans or medical tests that will define the extent of ones head injury to the brain.

So with that said, and covered in a previous article, what could this mean for the NHL?

There are some hockey fans that are jumping to the claim that it is a huge loss for the NHL if Sidney never comes back. To that I say get over it, he is not the entire league and if you think so then clearly you don’t enjoy the overall product of NHL hockey and all the superstars it has to offer.

Now, would the league be missing out on some potential great plays and great playoff performances? Absolutely, there is no doubt that as this past season showed Crosby can be on pace for some great statistical years. However they were all based on projection, other injuries can hinder a season/career and affect those projections.

In addition, the NHL I feel, is loaded with stars and as many as several on each team. I am not going to say that someone would fill his shoes as each star brings his own unique skill set and abilities to the game. What this might do is give some Crosby lovers the ability to see the rest of the league and its greatness.

Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are the two top dogs in the NHL, whether you like OV or not he is the 1A to Crosby’s 1. OV may not have been a statistical stud this year, but in years past he has put up huge numbers and is a marketing gold mine for the NHL and its brand. But after those two you look at the stars on the scoring leaders list and it’s just pure talent after pure talent.

There are goal scorers, playmakers, slap shooters and heavy hitters which all equally contribute to the quality of the product we see on TV and live in the arena, as well as in our fantasy leagues.

I understand very well his impact on the game, but let’s remember two things here. First off, America loves football which is a very violent and aggressive sport. That’s why Ovechkin is so popular amongst the American fans, they love his style of play and recklessness on the ice. Therefore the game in the USA is protected as long as he continues to play like that and others like him. The USA matters here because majority of the teams plays in the USA and they are a market essential to keep the NHL alive. Both in marketing revenues, ticket sales, fan gear, etc.

Also in Canada, we love the game so much and appreciate it and ALL of its talented players, that the loss of one player should not decrease our interest in the game of the league.

The biggest losers in this scenario, besides Crosby himself, are the Pittsburgh Penguins and Team Canada. As we all know Crosby scored the game winning goal for Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics after a near impossible tape to tape pass from Jerome Iginla.

Team Canada has the deepest talent pool to go and look for its replacements, but we can all admit that there is only one Sidney Crosby, and if he were to be lost from the roster that would be a talent that we would simply have to swallow and move forward from. Even with the likes of Steven Stamkos guaranteed to make the next Olympic roster, barring some epic faux pas, he still will not bring the intangibles.

So now we move onto the next phase of this recovery process, how do we avoid these incidents? Can we?

Is it truly possible to eliminate, or almost eliminate, head shots from Hockey without ruining the games flow and competitiveness?

I for one do not know, I am merely an opinion writer who reads as much as he can on all sports and then generates an opinion into words. I think that at a certain point it is still up to the players to respect each other while respecting and honouring the competitiveness and ferocity of the game of hockey.

At its best (I would say Olympics, but maybe I just love seeing the maple leaf too much) hockey is just something like no other professional sport. You are on ice, things can be done that can’t be done on any other surface. Players throw their bodies around seconds before and after big shots, passes, etc. But in order to keep seeing these amazing plays and talents players need to take care of themselves and each other.

You can hit someone cleanly but still knock them off the puck and put them on their ass. It is not impossible and for the players that keep whining about that, to them I say shut up. Go back to camp and learn to hit, I see plenty of stars and defensive beasts manhandle other huge players cleanly without giving them a concussion. Crosby’s first hit to the head at the Winter Classic was a cheap shot, obviously, he wasn’t looking and got an elbow to the head. The second hit was just massive, but arguably from behind.

Anyways, to sum up this is a big story in the NHL and could have long lasting ramifications for the league, Team Canada but most importantly for a career we only saw get started. Like all athletes, equally, losing a player too soon in their career is never fun. Hopefully Crosby, along with every single other head injury athlete on the DL, can get their heads back in the game and idiot players that caused the injuries can get theirs out of their behind.

  1. Losing Crosby is bad for the NHL, but I agree, it won’t destroy it. I think you do a good job in alluding to the fact that his injury at least brings light to a problem with the game; concussions. I did a quick google search for helmets + concussions and it seems the evidence show that helmets don’t do a great job in protecting players from them. Protect the skull, yes, but from concussions? It’s a solemn article about the ineffectiveness of helmets and the debilitating effect of concussions; and kind of makes your title seem in bad taste.

    Neverhtheless technology is improving and there are some good things out there. If I was Crosby, Bettman or Fehr I would strongly look into this, bring light to it and perhaps even invest it and force the players to wear them.

    This also came up:

    Good on Messier to get the ball rolling on this issue!

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