As The Pensblog ably reminds us today, there are only 44 days until the Pittsburgh Penguins travel to Vancouver to begin their season against the defending Western Conference champion Canucks. 230 days have passed since Sidney Crosby played a game of hockey. We still don’t know if he will be able to play ever again.
There have been unlimited rumors about Crosby’s status for the upcoming season. Everyone with a Twitter account within 20 miles of Cole Harbour Nova Scotia claims to have some sort of inside information about Sid’s health. There seems to be a cycle at work where people claim to hear something from someone who has an update on Crosby’s health, tweet the rumor, file a report, then ask Ray Shero and Pat Brisson (Crosby’s agent) to confirm or deny the update
But there are no updates. There haven’t been any updates since the season ended. Everything is still the same, and nobody knows when Crosby’s health will improve to the point where he can play again. Apparently this is unacceptable.
We are not used to sports injuries being this hard to understand. Medicine has evolved to the point where once an injury is diagnosed we are able to pinpoint an exact timeline for recovery. Torn ACL: nine to twelve months. Broken forearm: six weeks. But concussions? Indeterminate. When the symptoms subside.
The most frustrating aspect of this injury has been the nebulous nature of Sid’s "symptoms." We are told frequently that Crosby is still suffering "symptoms" from his concussion but there is no elaborating on exactly what those symptoms are. Presumably he is suffering from headaches, dizziness, and sensitivity to light. But maybe the symptoms are worse.
There was some speculation after it became clear that Sid was going to be sidelined for a significant amount of time that his injury was something even more grievous than a concussion. Perhaps a broken bone in his neck. A spinal contusion. Everything was suggested and nothing was confirmed. Surely if this were a concussion he wouldn’t miss more than a couple weeks. The day after the Hedman hit Dan Bylsma said he expected Sid to be out for about a week. It made sense, especially when one considers this hit Steelers tight end Heath Miller absorbed on December 10th 2010 forced him to miss only one week with a concussion:
The truth is that unless we are told otherwise, Sid has a concussion. And while on its face this injury may seem worse than that, we have to remember that everyone is different when it comes to concussions. And that’s another element of this situation that is so bewildering to the fan. We are constantly told that everybody reacts to concussions differently. That trauma to different parts of the brain affect people in different ways. And so there can never be an umbrella diagnosis when it comes to a concussion — certainly not in this era of heightened awareness regarding the dangerousness of head injuries. Had this happened five years ago and Sid were still experiencing headaches and dizziness, he might have been told by doctors that it’s just the way things are going to be for a while and not to worry about it. Get back out there and you’ll feel better eventually. For all we know Crosby may have suffered his first concussion when he was playing for Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL. Maybe he “had his bell rung,” like we used to say, before we knew how devastating a concussion could be, when he was 15-years-old at Shattuck-St. Marys, and because we all were so much more ignorant nine years ago his coaches and trainers never gave it a second look. There is a possibility that at the staggeringly young age of 24 the world’s greatest hockey player may already be damaged beyond repair. The most important thing is that Sidney take care of Sidney, and to wait until doctors are absolutely certain that it is safe for him to return to competition.
Ray Shero was asked today about Sid’s health and he said that as far as he knows Sid is working out off the ice. But maybe he will skate tomorrow, because he woke up feeling symptom-free. And then maybe the day after he doesn’t skate because he was a little dizzy and he isn’t sure if he should push himself. And then maybe he wakes up Friday and feels like a million dollars and continues to improve until he’s completely healed.
There is no way of telling, and that is something we all have to accept.