The top vote-getter for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game won’t be participating in that contest next Sunday. He also won’t be making the trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, to take part in the weekend’s other festivities.
Sidney Crosby’s decision to stay home in Pittsburgh has nothing to do with any kind of anger over the league’s failure to protect its star players, however, as was suggested in Canada’s Globe and Mail last week. Instead, it was an organizational decision for him to continue to focus solely on resting and recovering from the concussion he likely sustained January 1 in the NHL Winter Classic, and exacerbated with a second hit a few days later.
“Sidney is making progress in his recovery but still is not completely symptom free,” said Penguins GM Ray Shero. “The Penguins organization has decided that he will not attend … and, instead, will continue to relax and recuperate in the hopes of returning to our lineup soon.”
Crosby has not been cleared to resume physical activity and will miss his ninth straight game Tuesday when Pittsburgh hosts the New York Islanders. He summed up what he can do physically right now in a single word – “nothing” – and said he has no target date for anything at this point.
“They were pretty clear in communicating to me, when I saw doctors, that there’s no real timeline,” Crosby said. “People say ‘mild concussion,’ but I don’t know if there’s really such a thing. It’s a serious thing.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating being out, but it’s kind of out of my control. All I can do is do the things on my part that give me a chance to come back and play. It just takes time.”
The inactivity is something Crosby’s not used to, and he’s finding that to be the most challenging part of his recovery.
“It’s brutal; you sit around and you can’t do anything,” he said. “Early on, even watching TV, I could barely do that. It’s the things you take for granted and do every day, even driving, stuff like that, would set me off. You realize, when you’re going through something like this, that just being able to drive is a good step. Just being able to get through that without getting a headache or feeling a little off, those are the kinds of things you take for granted.”
Crosby said he spent about a week and a half after David Steckel’s hit from behind in the Winter Classic dealing with a neck issue that felt similar to whiplash. Now, his primary symptom is headaches.
“There’s never a consistent cause; it’s really hard to find out what causes them,” he said. “That’s the tough part, and the frustrating part about having a concussion. They come and go, but the last few days have been better; they haven’t been as intense. That’s a good thing.”
Another positive, Crosby said, is that he didn’t feel pressured by the league to participate in All-Star activities. He’s been talking to Brendan Shanahan, who’s heading up this year’s new-look All-Star Game, and said he appreciated the former player’s perspective and support.
“He’s someone who’s actually dealt with a concussion, so it’s good to talk to him and hear about what he went through,” Crosby said, adding that Shanahan advised him to “just be patient with it. Hearing that from him, someone who’s not too far removed from playing, was good.
“He was pretty clear … that my health was first and foremost. That was great to hear.”
Especially because Crosby – and the team that signs his considerable paychecks – is in no hurry to rush back and risk his long-term wellbeing.
“Guys are being really careful with this, and it’s for a good reason. You don’t want to get in that situation where there’s multiple ones or you come back too early. It’s not going to do me any good to come back feeling like I do now – obviously, putting myself at risk to have it happen again.
“I’ve been pretty happy with the way I’ve progressed the last four or five days. Hopefully it keeps going that way, and it will be sooner than later, but it’s still pretty hard to tell. You’re constantly evaluating yourself, and [the doctors and organization] are doing the same.”