After months of intense speculation about whether or not Sidney Crosby will return to play when the NHL season resumes on Oct. 6, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain broke his silence on Wedensday—but failed to quell the questions about how much longer this concussion will haunt him.
In a meeting space that smelled like a hockey locker room inside the Consol Energy Center, Crosby, his two concussion specialists, and Penguins GM Ray Shero faced more than 60 reporters and a dozen cameras to emphasize yet again that there is no fixed date for when the superstar will get back in the game.
“There is no timeline,” said Dr. Michael Collins, who has been treating Crosby since he suffered back-to-back hits to the head in early January. Collins said he was “encouraged” by his assessment of Crosby yesterday, which revealed that “his data is the best we’ve seen” since sustaining the injury, and “approaching normal limits.” “I anticipate him returning to hockey, but we won’t make any mistakes about it,” said Collins. “We want to make sure he is fully recovered.”
Dr. Ted Carrick, who started treating Crosby in the summer after some of his symptoms resumed, added that he too is encouraged by recent progress, especially with regard to Crosby’s spatial perception. He likened Crosby’s peak physical state to a “Ferrari” and said that news of his improvements is “like Christmas for Sid and for the people who care for him.”
Crosby admitted that he is still battling headaches, but noted this is a marked improvement from the myriad symptoms he experienced right after the concussion including fogginess, light and noise sensitivity and dizziness. He is now focusing on reconditioning his body and will eventually resume body contact training. Crosby also acknowledged the major emotional and mental toll the injury has taken on him, and the importance of his family, friends and teammates in helping him cope.
For all the uncertainty surrounding the timing of his comeback, Crosby was sure of one thing: he has no plans to call it quits. “Retirement? No,” he said. “That is the last thing I want.” When asked if he even considers that a possibility, Crosby smirked, “Wouldn’t bet on that.”
Crosby was also outspoken about the type of hits the league should allow, calling for a ban on head shots—accidental or not. “At the end of the day, I don’t think there’s a reason not to take them out,” he said. “I read a stat that there were 50,000 hits a year, and we’re talking about maybe 50 headshots. Take those out and the game’s not going to change. As players we’re professionals, and the odd time maybe there’s accidental contact, but for the most part we can control what goes on out there. For sure it’s a fast game, but we’ve got to be responsible, too. A guy’s got to be responsible with his stick, why shouldn’t he be responsible with the rest of his body?”
For all the questions surrounding Crosby these days, Sid the Kid may have asked the most important one yet.