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Lessons Learned:  Crosby Recovery Could’ve Been Handled Better

During last week’s final media scrum, Sidney Crosby not only admitted that he suffered a setback in his recovery from the concussion(s) he suffered in January, but that “my expectation probably wasn’t that I’d play.

So, Crosby didn’t expect to play this season.  Therefore, a reasonable assumption is that Penguins’ management knew he wasn’t expected to play this season.

Which makes me wonder:  Why, then, heavily publicize Crosby skating around the rink?

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see at the time.  Lightning-quick hands, pinpoint precision and powerful strides, all coming from someone who admitted that he was not 100%, conditioning-wise.

Also, I want to add that the Penguins are perhaps the leader amongst NHL teams in providing behind-the-scenes video for its fans, whether it’s in the locker room, on the ice or in the community.  It’s fantastic to see, both as a blogger and as a fan.

The videos quickly traversed hockey’s niche of the online world.  Twitter feeds promulgated Crosby’s on-ice sessions even faster.

Sure looked like it was just a matter of time before Crosby hit the ice for the Penguins in the playoffs.  Wasn’t it?

Giving them complete credit, Penguins’ management did absolutely nothing to fuel the Crosby speculation.  At every opportunity, either HDCB or GMRS tampered down Penguins’ fans expectations, stressing that Crosby “wasn’t even close” to returning.  Moreover, at the time of his setback, Crosby had not yet been cleared for contact in practice.

But again, if he wasn’t close to returning, and Crosby didn’t expect to be back, and management knew chances were he wasn’t coming back, then why make all the hubbub with Crosby practicing?

Was it to provide a diversion towards the opposition’s gameplan?  After all, planning a defense for a Penguins starting lineup with Crosby is surely more difficult than one without him.  It’s possible, I suppose.  I know that Guy Boucher expected him to play, at least that’s what he kept saying to the media.  Perhaps that was Boucher’s own psychological ploy.

Just one schmuck’s opinion, and hindsight is 20/20, but I would imagine in retrospect if the Penguins had to do it all over again (and let’s hope they never actually do), they would let his recovery take its course.  Without the cameras.

Filed in: , | The Confluence | Permalink
  Tags: nhl-hockey, pittsburgh+penguins


Evilpens's avatar

Common Sense from a OrganIzation that let Sid play with a Concussion & then Left him fly with 2 concussion ?

Posted by Evilpens on 05/03/11 at 01:07 PM ET


This is the biggest question I have also.  It just is baffling they would publicly show videos of him skating, practicing, etc unless they were 100% sure he would be returning.  In a sport that allows injury reports to be upper body or lower body injury with no timetable why show stuff like this.

I think Shero is a great GM but do decisions like this go through him?  If so I don’t know what he was thinking.

Posted by tbassett on 05/03/11 at 01:13 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

The whole thing has been strange in a Tiger Woods way.

Speaking of Tony, did you ever hear anything about Crosby working with the Woods/Sharapova doc?

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 05/03/11 at 01:38 PM ET


I don’t know. I think that having Sid skate with the team was to provide a big psychological boost to the other guys. I think deep down in the players’ hearts they knew that there was no way this team would have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the cup without Sid, especially with Geno out too. So if they just could hold on long enough, there was always this slim (maybe very slim) chance that he could come back as the 11th hour savior for the team.

Posted by VAHockeyFan on 05/03/11 at 01:44 PM ET


This is what we Penguins fans have to read until the draft?


The videos didn’t cause his setback…we all loved watching them…who cares?

I’d rather read about how James Neal looks terrible in the World Championships.  The fact that the guy is NOT hiding an injury worries me, greatly.

Posted by fueledbyjake on 05/03/11 at 01:47 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Oh Goody! Puck Drama has made it to KK’s sick

Posted by Evilpens on 05/03/11 at 01:52 PM ET

Tony's avatar

@Leo - Nope, never did….

@VAHockeyFan - I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been skating with his team, just saying they probably shouldn’t have made the “exclusive videos”....

@Jake - Don’t like it, don’t read it…..

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 05/03/11 at 01:53 PM ET

Greg's avatar

I don’t remember when I wrote it, but a couple months ago atleast.  But he (Sid) is close friends with my family, and he did say about 2 weeks before he started skating that he knew he wasn’t coming back.

I can only guess skating made him feel normal, and took his mind of things.  If he was allowed to skate by dr’s orders, then why wouldn’t he?  I don’t know why they’d publicize it like they did, and probable never will understasnd it.  But in his mind, he knew since February, and told a few people as much.

Posted by Greg on 05/03/11 at 02:09 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

If I were a pens fan, I’d feel as if I had been jerked around by this unrealistic timetable. Maybe the office doesn’t think a crosby-less penguins squad would put butts in seats, so they dangled him as just out of reach. This is, of course, speculation.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 05/03/11 at 02:17 PM ET


i still feel like his setback was the reason the pens lost the 3-1 series to tampa.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 05/03/11 at 02:30 PM ET


Fans would have come out with or without Crosby, but the expectations change drastically if he is even remotely able to play.

Not taking anything away from TB because they deserved to win, but I agree that the realization by the team that Crosby was not coming back took the wind out of their sails and gave them less drive to finish off that series. No rudder, no hope.

I think videotaping him skating around with the team was just a PR/feelgood thing that the Pens mgmt. decided to do. Pumps up the fans and gets the excitement going. No harm/no foul. Had the team even alluded to more, then it would have been false hope. If you go back and read everything that was said, it was pretty clear that it was unlikely that he’d be back this season. Pens fans just read into it what they wanted and hoped it to say.

Posted by VAHockeyFan on 05/03/11 at 03:08 PM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

It was disappointing that he didn’t come back, but I think the focus on it and the hope, despite it being false, really picked up the fans and probably the players.  In addition, as you mentioned, I think it helped to have the other team worried he may come back at any time.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 05/03/11 at 03:48 PM ET


I can buy the “let the fans see the behind-the-scenes” angle.

But I can also see the “put the fear of Crosby” into the Pens 1st round opponent angle as well. (obviously it didn’t work) If I am a prospective 1st round matchup vs the Pens and it is the week leading up to the playoffs and I see Crosby to start skating, some small part of me is thinking “uh oh”.

Posted by Ryan on 05/03/11 at 05:37 PM ET


The Penguins never said he would be back (in fact, they said their expectation was that he wouldn’t be back). The team put out some cool videos for the fans because they hadn’t seen him in a while, and we liked watching them.

Any other inferences or speculation are the fault of the fans.

Filming his workout has nothing to do with his setback, recovery, or timetable for return. I liked watching it and was happy to see him active and working out rather than hear dumb rumors about brain tumors.

Posted by Borsk from The Burgh on 05/03/11 at 05:39 PM ET


Could you have imagined what would have happened if they showed nothing? it would have been assumed that the organization was hiding something. There was already rumors going around of his retirement, add to that the silence of an organization backing arguably the best player in the league, if not the most widely recognized.

It would have caused panic with Pens fans, not to mention the media circus that would have followed. Also what’s wrong with the Penguins giving the fans something to smile about during a season when we were repeatedly plagued by injuries and setbacks.

I commend the Penguins for the way they handled the situation, if they had of did it any other way you all would be complaining about that.

Posted by PensFan on 05/03/11 at 07:46 PM ET

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Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.

Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.

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