Pro­to­col? Crosby slammed again and isn’t eval­u­ated

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JESSE DOUGHERTY

Af­ter Sid­ney Crosby bar­reled into the boards near the end of the first pe­riod Mon­day, he lay face down on the ice for a few mo­ments be­fore push­ing him­self up.

Crosby then paused on his hands and knees, drew a deep breath and slowly got back onto his feet be­fore skat­ing to­ward the ac­tion. The se­quence started when Crosby, Cap­i­tals de­fence­man John Carl­son and team­mate Pa­tric Horn­qvist tum­bled be­hind the Cap­i­tals’ net, and it left Crosby shaken. It also came ex­actly a week af­ter Crosby suf­fered a con­cus­sion in Game 3 at PPG Paints Arena. Fol­low­ing Mon­day night’s game, how­ever, Pen­guins Coach Mike Sul­li­van said Crosby had not been eval­u­ated for a con­cus­sion.

“Mike, were you con­cerned when you saw Sid sort of slow to get up a cou­ple times in the first, and was he eval­u­ated for a con­cus­sion in the first in­ter­mis­sion?” a re­porter asked Sul­li­van.

“No . . . No . . .” Sul­li­van said, and he did not elab­o­rate.

When Crosby was asked if he was eval­u­ated fol­low­ing that play, the Pen­guins’ star said, “Yeah, yeah . . . . Pretty stan­dard.” He also did not elab­o­rate or in­di­cate if he was specif­i­cally eval­u­ated for a con­cus­sion. He did not im­me­di­ately leave the ice af­ter the play, re­join­ing the Pen­guins’ power play for a de­fen­sive-zone face­off.

“When you go in like that, it just kind of knocked the wind out of me,” Crosby said. “It was a fluky fall, but not one you want to make too of­ten.”

This past Oc­to­ber, the NHL an­nounced up­dates to its con­cus­sion pro­to­col, the cen­ter­piece of which was a new staff of “Cen­tral League Spot­ters” that would mon­i­tor all con­tests from the NHL’s Player Safety Room in New York.

The Oc­to­ber an­nounce­ment states: The spot­ters are “au­tho­rized to re­quire a Player’s re­moval from play for eval­u­a­tion for con­cus­sion if the Player ex­hibits cer­tain vis­i­ble sign(s) un­der the Pro­to­col, fol­low­ing a di­rect or in­di­rect blow to the head. In-Arena League Spot­ters and On-Ice Of­fi­cials will com­ple­ment the Cen­tral League Spot­ters and will also mon­i­tor play for signs of pos­si­ble con­cus­sion.”

The NHL’s con­cus­sion pro­to­col for the 2016-17 sea­son lists six sit­u­a­tions that would war­rant an “acute eval­u­a­tion” for a pos­si­ble con­cus­sion.

The first is if a player ex­hibits one or more of nine listed symp­toms, in­clud­ing dis­ori­en­ta­tion, af­ter a di­rect or in­di­rect blow to the head. The sec­ond is “ly­ing mo­tion­less on the ice,” de­fined as a player ly­ing mo­tion­less on the ice or fall­ing to the ice in an un­pro­tected man­ner. The third is a player ex­hibit­ing “mo­tor co­or­di­na­tion/balance prob­lems.” The fourth is a player ex­hibit­ing a “blank or va­cant look.” The fifth is when a player is “slow to get up” or “clutches his head.” The sixth is when a “Player ex­hibits any other sign, symp­tom or be­hav­ior that leads Club med­i­cal per­son­nel to sus­pect that a Player has sus­tained a pos­si­ble con­cus­sion.”

The pro­to­col spec­i­fies that fifth sit­u­a­tion stated above, say­ing it is war­ranted for eval­u­a­tion if the player clutches his head or any part of his face af­ter three kinds of plays: a blow to the player’s head or up­per torso from an­other player’s shoul­der, the player’s head mak­ing sec­ondary con­tact with the ice, or when the player is punched in the head by an un­gloved fist dur­ing a fight. Then, if the player is “slow to Get Up or Clutches his Head fol­low­ing a mech­a­nism of in­jury other than the three listed above, re­moval from play is not manda­tory and Club med­i­cal staff shall ex­er­cise their med­i­cal judg­ment as to whether to re­move the Player for an acute eval­u­a­tion.”

The pro­to­col states that “iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and re­moval of Play­ers who re­quire an acute eval­u­a­tion for pos­si­ble con­cus­sion pur­suant to this Pro­to­col is a Club level re­spon­si­bil­ity,” and that Cen­tral and In-Arena Spot­ters as­sist with that process.

The public con­cern sur­round­ing Crosby is height­ened be­cause it has been just seven days since he suf­fered a con­cus­sion on a high cross­check by Matt Niska­nen. That was the fourth re­ported con­cus­sion of his ca­reer and kept him out of Game 4 last Wed­nes­day. The 29-year-old has missed 115 games due to con­cus­sion-re­lated is­sues.

One of the ef­fects of nu­mer­ous con­cus­sions is that the thresh­old for fu­ture head in­juries is lower, two con­cus­sion ex­perts told The Post last week. That is only to say that Crosby, based on re­search, has grown more likely to suf­fer a con­cus­sion af­ter each re­cur­ring head in­jury.


Pitts­burgh Pen­guins’ Sid­ney Crosby sits on the bench dur­ing the third pe­riod of Game 6 in Pitts­burgh Mon­day.

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