Sidney Crosby and head coach Dan Bylsma spoke to the media about Crosby's mild concussion Saturday at CONSOL Energy Center. It was the first time Crosby had spoken on the topic since flying home before Thursday's game at Montreal:
The exact moment Crosby suffered the concussion isn’t clear. Crosby was hit in the head by Washington’s David Steckel in the Winter Classic, and again by Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman Wednesday night. Crosby couldn’t say which, if either, hit caused the mild concussion. Concussions can occur after a series of hits, as opposed to one big hit and are difficult to track.
After suffering the Steckel hit, Crosby had some neck soreness, but did not show any symptoms of having suffered a concussion. Crosby noted that the team handled his evaluation from the Winter Classic in the proper fashion. “Looking back, I wouldn’t have changed anything we did. It may be easy to say that now. But I didn’t have any head problems and it didn’t feel like a concussion. It seemed to be all neck related. I’ve gotten hit a lot over the course of my time playing hockey. I’ve had sore necks and that’s kind of what it felt like at the time. But I don’t think looking back I would have changed anything.”
Bylsma reiterated that the team would never put Crosby’s (or any player for that matter) health in jeopardy by allowing him to play with a concussion. “There isn't a person who we would put on the ice that has concussion symptoms. We were acutely aware of those symptoms and dealing with our doctors. (Crosby) did not go into the Tampa Bay game with any symptoms that we felt were concussion related.”
During the game against the Lightning, Crosby said he wasn’t feeling right, “you just feel off, headaches, a little sick.” Crosby informed the team doctors of his symptoms after the game. Crosby said that it wasn’t until after the Tampa Bay game that, “My head started to hurt me a little bit more. But leading up to that, it was more neck than head.” Crosby was checked by the Pens doctors, who told him if his condition didn’t change by the next morning he would need to be re-evaluated. Crosby still didn’t feel right in the morning so he flew to Pittsburgh for further testing.
Crosby knew it was more serious when his head started hurting: “You’re hit a lot in hockey, and you have neck soreness. That’s pretty typical. Wednesday when it started to get more in my head and I felt a little off, that’s when I saw the red flag.”
Crosby was diagnosed with a mild concussion by the team’s doctors Thursday. He will have to wait until all the concussion-like symptoms are gone before he can even think about doing any physical activity. “I think it’s kind of a process. You just go based on your symptoms. Hopefully, soon I’ll be symptom free and be able to start doing exercise. If I can get through that, I will go to the next step and start skating. Like I said, hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.”
Crosby did say that his symptoms haven’t changed much since Wednesday: “It’s been pretty much the same for a couple days. It’s one of those things where everyone heals and reacts differently. It’s just one of those things you have to wait out. It’s not as easy as a break or something where they really give you a time frame. There are certain steps you take, and it’s obviously a pretty sensitive issue. You always make sure you take your time, but hopefully things are better sooner than later.”
Bylsma added that: "Until he's symptom-free, we won't be moving forward with anything. That's what will have to happen, he has to be symptom-free and then we'll move forward from there."
There is no definitive time frame, but the team will still be very cautious with their franchise player. The Penguins employ some of the best doctors in the world and will have Crosby’s best interests at heart during his recovery process: “I don’t want to come back too soon. I know they won’t allow that to happen. It’s a little bit different than a shoulder or things like that, that you can play through in the course of the season. It’s pretty serious. We want to make sure that you’re completely clear from doing it again.”