January 17, 2011
According to David Shoalts of the Globe & Mail, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby(notes) might skip the 2011 NHL All-Star Game as a form of protest over the league's headshot prevention and player safety measures. Only he wouldn't tell the NHL that's the reason ... except now that it's in the Globe & Mail, perhaps it's time to revisit those plans.
The word filtering out of the Pittsburgh Penguins is that Crosby is an angry young man, angry enough to pull his considerable star presence from one of the league's showcase events because he does not think the NHL is doing enough to protect its players. An NHL source said Crosby is not likely to tell the NHL he is withdrawing from the all-star game to protest the fact neither player who hit him on the head was suspended. However, he could easily decline and cite the need for complete recovery from a mild concussion.
The source said Crosby, who showed up at the all-star game in Montreal two years ago even though he sustained a knee injury and could not play, is not inclined to do any more such favours right now.
Crosby hasn't played since Jan. 5, out with a concussion that both he and his agent Pat Brisson believe was caused by a hit from David Steckel of the Washington Capitals in the Winter Classic and then aggravated on a subsequent hit from Victor Hedman(notes) of the Tampa Bay Lightning four days later. Neither player was suspended.
Please note that Brisson was the only source on the record in the Globe & Mail piece, and protested the lack of supplemental discipline on Steckel's accidental headshot.
(UPDATE: I traded emails with Brisson Monday night on the Globe & Mail story, and he offered the following clarification:
"I haven’t discussed All-star Game plans with Sidney at all since he got injured. The last thing you need to do with a concussed player is to bring more trauma to the head. He needs to be symptom free to start with and then resume physical activity before anything else takes place. I simply expressed my opinion regarding the 'hits to the heads' and the potential traction this subject may have going forward, as its becoming a very important issue with our athletes."
According to Shoalts, Brisson "declined to say if he thinks Crosby will skip the all-star game.")
Whether it was one of Crosby's representatives or someone with the Penguins that leaked this story, it didn't do Crosby any favors. Welcome back to the tired old "Sidney Crosby, Professional Whiner" meme, in which the NHL's top attraction doesn't get the justice he sought and gains retribution by sitting out a weekend allegedly held for the fans' entertainment. It's not a fair label for Sid, but this type of behavior earns it.
And welcome to another round of criticism of Crosby for being less aggressive in his stance against headshots (though not silent, as is often stated) when it was Matt Cooke(notes) knocking out Marc Savard(notes) than when he's the victim.
Crosby will likely be named an All-Star game captain on Tuesday. He's not symptom free, with the All-Star Weekend a week from Friday. There's every chance he won't participate due to this concussion. One hopes that's the primary reason, and not some paltry protest that undermines one of the league's signature events.
(Ed. Note: Before this spins out of control in the comments, let me make something clear. I don't believe Crosby will miss the All-Star game in protest. I do believe he could miss it due to injury. I also believe that when it comes to making a statement about the NHL's policies, leaking this to the Globe & Mail the day before Crosby is likely named an All-Star captain *is* the protest.)
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UPDATE (1/18): Some of you have pointed to this Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article as a rebuttal to both this post and the Globe & Mail's reporting. Brisson told us the same thing he told Rossi, which is that, "We've not talked about the All-Star Game even once." How that becomes a headline about his not skipping the All-Star Game is as much a mystery as how the Globe & Mail's reporting became one that said he would.
The other thing I'd like to clarify: This post was not about a decision Crosby did or did not make. It was about what the reactions to the Globe & Mail leak would be, and what they are. "It's not a fair label for Sid, but this type of behavior earns it" is in reference to the story's impact and how a reader would perceive the news. If that wasn't clear, apologies, but that's the point.