Musings to Quiet the Crosby Crybabies

I might get a lot of jeers for saying it, but I’m still going to put it out there. Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, Sidney Crosby is one of the best hockey players on the planet at this present time.

I’m no hockey expert and I’m no professional scout. I’m not here to disagree with or challenge those who live the game and know far more than I do. But I am here to answer to the harsh Crosby critics who can’t seem to get over the kid’s status as an NHL poster player.

Without getting too into the statistics right now, let’s just look at his notoriety. With Crosby’s ongoing concussion-related issues keeping him from the game, the game has suffered. When Sid returned to hockey last month against the New York Islanders, his superstar status was as bright as the lamp he had lit on one of his first shifts back after almost a year without playing at that level. Television personalities went absolutely gaga over the kid and I lost count of how many people said it was “a good day for the NHL” to see him back on the ice.

That’s not to say it’s less important to see other players miss a lot of hockey for injuries. Chris Pronger was one of the latest concussion victims and was sidelined for the entire season. His return, like Sid’s, will be great for hockey. But let’s put this in perspective.

Crosby’s resume is not an accident. He is barely approaching his mid-twenties and has enough under his belt to retire on. He’s the youngest captain to ever hoist the Stanley Cup. He’s already made it to the finals twice. He scored his country’s game-winning goal in an Olympic gold medal game.

Since the day the kid was drafted, the NHL hasn’t been the same. His impact on the game is obvious and it’s etched all over anything having to do with professional hockey. So why hate on him?

There’s the typical “cry-baby” complains that usually follow Sid around the ice, and I’m not necessarily disagreeing. Sure, there are times that Crosby mouths off to a ref every now and then. But I can recall another certain hockey legend who also had a complaint or two every now and then who wore the number 99. And besides, a player of Sidney Crosby’s caliber has evidently changed the dynamic of how teams defend against the Pittsburgh Penguins and without a doubt could frustrate any player.

I’m no Crosby-fanatic. I’m not even a big Penguins fan. I’ve got my Crosby sweater hung right next to my Ovechkin sweater on my wall in my apartment. It’s because I respect the game and acknowledge its great players.

It’s a shame that Sid has been sidelined once again, even after his big return. But his short-lived comeback should show that he’s still Sid. In eight games, the kid scored two goals and tallied 10 assists for 12 points. His statistics speak for themselves and I’m not going to ram them down anyone’s throats. (Cough click cough.)

How you feel about Sid is your opinion. But you can’t dispute the facts, which point to his superstar status. Sidney Crosby is good for hockey and the sport is better with him being a part of it.

I’ll leave the Sid haters with this final question. Who wold you rather have on your fantasy team? Sid, or Rick DiPietro?


Of Crosby and Concussions

this is your brain...

photo cred:

On Nov. 21st, just before Sidney Crosby made his triumphant return to the NHL after nearly a year on the shelf from dual concussions, I felt compelled to compose and send the following to Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski,

Sidney Crosby’s return marks the end of a worry for possibly millions of fans across the globe. A worry that the best player in the world today has been in a word, Lindros’d.

But for me, it only marks the beginning of a new worry; that this could be the worst decision of his life.

But who is this same-aged Rangers fan from Long Island? A guy who has been having the Ovechkin vs. Sid debate since the lockout and choosing Ovie each time. Why would I care?

I care because I know what it’s like to have your life literally trapped in an indefinite crippling holding pattern just to recover from Post Concussion Syndrome. I had to leave school and live my life through dark sunglasses, ear buds, and hardly being able to remember what I had for breakfast.

I know what it’s like when the doctor recommends that you shut everything down to “just let your brain heal,” by literally doing absolutely nothing for months on end. I know what the seemingly insurmountable despair and boredom your life’s utter nothingness does to you. It’s like you’re in your own personal isolation cell with your brain perpetually on fire. Constantly fearful of irritants that can re-spark intense migraines, crippling nausea and wild mood swings.

And the cherry on top; no one truly understands what you’re going through. No one can help you. There’s no AA. No meds. No distractions. Just burning pain, confusion and fear.

It was two years ago this past Halloween I suffered my fifth concussion (third major) in the past nine years. I still struggle with the ripple effects, and I don’t have any of the pressures of a Crosby, or even a struggling family. I just have me. And my struggles.

The Kid symbolizes a lot of things for me. He symbolizes the idyllic super star because he makes his mates better and outworks everyone.  He also symbolizes an utter lack of understanding for a devastating condition that I sincerely doubt he’s overcome. How does one overcome brain damage exactly anyway?

But, he, along with other players like Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Patrice Bergeron and soon to return David Perron, give me hope that I too can break through and pick up where I left off if I just keep working hard.

For that, I thank each of you.

Wysh was kind enough to respond only a few hours later with a thank you and that he “may do a round up of Sid stuff later, and will pop this in.” He didn’t, and that’s fine.

Fast forward to today, Crosby’s return lasted just eight game over two weeks. And now his career is sincerely in question.

But, why is anyone surprised? As Wysh’s podcast-mate Jeff Marek of said so aptly last week, “Hockey is a concussion sport.” To wit, Lyle Richardson on Sunday clearly illustrates at his site, Spector’s Hockey, hockey is a sport that can’t not have head injuries.

  “As for finding one specific reason for the occurrence of these injuries, that may be unreasonable. Players on skates traveling at high speeds, encased in hard, plastic protective gear, clutching long, narrow sticks, playing in an enclosed space on a hard, slippery, unforgiving surface, surrounded by boards and shatter-proof glass run a significant risk of injury.”

Doesn’t that say enough about hockey when it comes to concussions?

When it comes to my decision as to whether or not to play (any form of) hockey, or any other contact sport, the answer still isn’t easy. I’m a person who feels more at ease competing in a game than almost anything else. But in the end, I still have in the back of my mind, “Hey, be careful. This isn’t worth it.”

Now try to imagine what it’s like for athletes who are on the cusp of making it to the show. Working their whole lives to realize their dreams, and potentially make some serious bank.

Now try to imagine what it’s like for those who have made it to the show, are established, and may be forced to reconsider what they’ve worked their whole lives for, achieved and still pursue to conquer. Save for a mad few, it can’t be easy.

I just hope no one ends up like this.