For those anxious for news on his recovery from concussion, Sid the Kid and his treatment team have a message: be patient.
Pittsburgh Penguins centre and Canadian Olympic hero Sidney Crosby said he’s feeling better than he has in weeks, and never seriously considered retiring, and while his doctors expect him to make a full recovery, he’s not there yet.
“Mentally, I feel good, the last three weeks it’s the best I’ve felt so far . . . it’s been a tough road, but retirement? No,” said Crosby, who reportedly had a brisk practice skate at the Consol Energy Centre before the news conference.
Crosby said he’s felt very close to being himself at various points in his recovery, but 90 per cent is not close enough to return.
“I’m not going to roll the dice . . . it’s important to get back to where I need to be and if not, we’ve seen it many times, you can get recurring issues,” Crosby said.
“You’ve got to listen to your body, you’ve to got listen to your doctors,” he added.
Asked by a reporter whether he’s been thinking about the possibility he may never be able to play again, Crosby smiled and said “it’s a pretty slight one.”
“I wouldn’t bet on that,” he said, allowing that while it’s “a scary thing” he has no doubt he will return. “I’m lucky, I feel like I’m in pretty good shape and on the right end of things right now.”
The doctors who treated Crosby also talked about the extent of his injury, which was more debilitating than many may have realized.
Dr. Michael Collins, a concussion specialist who works with the Penguins, said he isn’t surprised by “we are seeing significant improvements recently” and that “I anticipate Sid returning to hockey and playing well in the future.”
Collins assessed Crosby on Tuesday and said his brain “is approaching normal limits” and that the player is now “in reconditioning mode” but that there is no timeline yet.
“We’re going to make sure this 100 per cent normal before he returns to play,” he said.
Widely regarded as the game’s best player, the 24-year-old Nova Scotia native hasn’t played since finding himself on the receiving end of a pair of hits in back-to-back games this past January.
The first came on Jan. 1, courtesy of David Steckel, then of the Washington Capitals, at the NHL’s showcase Winter Classic outdoor game in Pittsburgh.
Though Crosby was examined after the hit, where Steckel’s elbow caught his head as he spun around, but was pronounced fit to play the Penguins’ next game four days later.
In that game, Tampa’s Victor Hedman crunched Crosby’s into the end boards from behind, and the star centre came up grimacing after his head hit the glass. After taking a team flight to Montreal that night, he returned home the next day to be evaluated. Collins said “I first saw Sid on Jan. 6 . . . he was having very consistent symptoms. He was foggy” and that given his symptoms of headaches, dizziness and nausea “I knew he was in for a long recovery.” He added that Crosby suffered from a “vestibular” type of concussion, which affects areas of the brain associated with spatial perception.
“Sid is a Ferrari, his vestibular system is better than anyone else’s, it’s what makes him the player that he is . . . it makes sense, that where his injury was, that it was going to take some time to rehabilitate this,” Collins said.
Though Crosby began practising hard in March, he hasn’t seen game action in the nine months since the Hedman hit, and at various points has experienced setbacks in his recovery, leading him to consult an array of concussion specialists.
Collins added that Crosby reached 90 per cent exertion this summer, but began experiencing mild symptoms, leading him to consult Dr. Ted Carrick, a Florida-based expert in chiropractic neurology who examined Crosby at a clinic in Georgia.
Dr. Carrick said he used various techniques to re-educate Crosby’s brain - he likened it to Crosby perceiving that something that is actually to his right is slightly behind him – and that he has made major strides.
“It’s Christmas for Sid Crosby and people who care for him,” Carrick said.
On April 29, Crosby spoke about his symptoms and mildly criticized the NHL for not punishing either hit, but until today he hadn’t made any public comments.
Crosby is one of several NHL players - another is David Perron of the St. Louis Blues - to have a lengthy recovery after suffering a concussion last season.
It never ends. The three enforcers, a whole plane of them today. On top of that, Crosby, NHL's poster-boy, still suffering from concussion. Who'd have thought any of this was gonna happen, early last season?
Maybe if we get all of this shit out of the way now, hockey (all leagues involved) won't have another off-season like this for another 50 years.
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