Sidney Crosby has finally decided to take a stand against the NHL and their leniency on the headshot rule.
It took two hits against him for him to speak out, both of which occurred late in the second periods of two separate games. The first was a blindside hit on January 1 by Washington left-winger David Steckel during the Winter Classic. Four days later, on January 5, in an 8-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Crosby was hit by defenceman Victor Hedman. The hit was enough to sideline Crosby for two weeks and counting with a concussion.
The NHL reviewed both hits on Crosby and determined that no fines or suspensions were to be given to either Steckel or Hedman.
Although Crosby’s concussion is considered mild, concussions in general aren’t something to be taken lightly. Initially, Crosby was supposed to return after a week of rest, but two weeks have already gone by and he is still having headaches and is unable to return to training or practice.
Crosby spoke to the media last week, suggesting that the intent of the hitter shouldn’t matter when determining penalties. He argued that high-sticking penalties are given without consideration of intent and that the same standard should be set for headshots. He also questioned the value of the National Hockey League’s headshot rules. In Crosby’s view, the league isn’t focussing enough on enforcing the rules already in place for preventing headshots.
Last season, the NHL introduced Rule 48, which was supposed to prevent blindside and lateral hits to the head by penalizing the player with a five-minute major and an automatic game misconduct as well as possible supplementary disciplinary action as deemed appropriate by the NHL. Despite this new rule, 33 concussions have been reported in the NHL so far this season and referees seem hesitant to penalize players.
Rumours circulated quickly after Crosby’s injury that he would miss the All-Star game out of protest about unfair treatment by the NHL, but Crosby quickly denied those rumours. He said that if he does end up missing the All-Star game it will be because of his injury, not because he didn’t want to be there. It is unlikely he will participate, because he has to be symptom-free for at least a week before he can be cleared to play.
This is the first concussion the 23-year-old Crosby has suffered in his professional career. Hopefully, it will be his last—the NHL is suffering both on and off the ice without their superstar.