it’s not all in your head

Today’s the day that we receive news about Crosby, who didn’t go on the team’s last road trip and had no intention of playing from the outset. He met the media this afternoon and said words we’re all pretty familiar with. No timetable for return. He wants to be at 100%. He doesn’t feel bad, but he has symptoms.

Sidney Crosby’s head injury made waves this past January. The idea that the game’s best player could be taken out indefinitely in the middle of a career year was unthinkable and disappointing. What matched the magnitude of that disappointment, nearly, was the shock and appreciation that Dan Bylsma and the remaining team, after seemingly endless injuries, still played well and made the playoffs. We know that winning isn’t necessarily due to talent or to determination, it’s a combination of both. Crosby obviously brings both, but the rest of the team is capable as well. And so we succeed, to a degree.

The fact that Crosby has suffered a setback is, at this point, disheartening. But this type of thing is going to happen, medically.
Sadly, we also see it as a sign that the NHL is in crisis mode with regards to attitude about its product. Crosby isn’t the first talented player to go down this way–we should be glad that he seems like he’s going to try to come back at all. (Because I’m in Boston I have to drop an obvious name–Marc Savard.)
But there is also a ridiculous number of players out with concussions right now. . .from farmhands like Robert Bortuzzo to high-profile guys with great skill sets, like Claude Giroux (whom we’ve always kind of liked).

Seth Rorabaugh wrote today that Shanahan’s discipline has been inconsistent if much less nebulous than it was under Campbell.

The root of this problem seems to be a.) the “system” being unable to keep up with medical understanding of injuries and b.) a gross misconception of the on-ice product as understood by the NHL’s executives. They may seem unrelated, but this is why the realignment was allowed to pass. We’re thinking in terms of numbers–travel costs, television ratings, “fan confidence”, ticket sales, etc.–and not in terms of reality and human life.

There’s a reason why New York Times reporters were doing all the digging on the death of Derek Boogaard, for example.
We are only speaking in euphemisms when it comes to the toll that the game takes on players.
We can yell about terms like “hockey play” and “legal check” until we’re blue in the face. We can field comments from “fans” of opposing teams saying crap like “oh he’s a pussy, he needs to walk it off” or “he’s just being emo” for years.
The fact is that without your brain functioning properly, you don’t do anything right. If your brain is damaged enough, you actually die. It’s not like a broken bone, it’s not like a strained muscle, it’s not some nebulous injury that we can file away as an accident.

Concussions aren’t the only injuries though. We’ve seen more videos this season so far of idiots doing cheap shit to other players than we have seen in years. We know that YouTube ability is at an all-time high and that these videos can be made within minutes, and we also know that this is anecdotal evidence at best. Still, the atmosphere has been ominous since this summer. We try to elevate away from controversy and injuries and we end up right back where we were before.

When is somebody going to say that this shit is getting old, and we’re sick of seeing both our much-beloved sport and the value of human life diluted to such an astronomical degree?

Many players are going to sit this season because of things that were done to them illegally.
We’re going to wait for some video from Shanahan, agree or disagree with it, and then forget about it a week later, apparently. Unless it’s your favorite team’s player, in which case you’ll sit on it like it’s a bed of knives.
This isn’t okay, this is circus bullshit. People need to start paying more attention.

We miss integrity, we miss hockey.
We miss Sid, too.

Go Pens.


About Zoë

from Fayette County, living in Boston, chronically fussy. Writing about the Penguins, the CWHL/women's hockey, and hockey/sports media criticism.