October 4 will mark the beginning of Sidney Crosby’s 14th season in the National Hockey League. Since the Fall of 2005, Crosby has accumulated over 1,100 points, a pair of scoring titles as well as Conn Smythe awards, three Stanley Cup rings, and innumerable other awards. All of this success coming at the price of constant exertion, battling through a number of concussions and other injuries, and post-season runs that bring a season’s total games-played well into the hundreds. As the hockey world years for the return of its beloved sport, its players are already preparing for the 18-19 campaign. Crosby is no exception. However, one question becomes hard to ignore – How long until Crosby is an exception?
Sidney Crosby has become the face of many things in the past 14 years, from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the entire NHL. But concussion awareness also falls under that category of Crosby-synonymous entities. His first round of concussions began on the first night of 2011, the Winter Classic against Washington. A blindside hit from David Steckl, coupled with further head contact a few nights later against Tampa Bay, would sideline Crosby until well into the following season.
Even that glorious return on the 21st of November vs. the Islanders was short lived. Crosby would play only eight games until a hit from David Krejci sidelined him once more. 2011-12 was limited to just 22 games for the Penguins Captain.
The concussions dissipated for the next few years, even though a slapshot that broke Crosby’s jaw. Leading up to the beginning of the 2016-17 season, the narrative shifted once more; the concussions were back. Sustained in practice, it only held him out until October 25, and he was back to his normal self, going on to place second in league scoring. Finally, in the postseason against Washington that same year, a crosscheck to the head from Matt Niskanen removed Crosby from play once more. He would miss Game 4 of that series alone, and the rest is Conn Smythe trophy history.
Since 2011, Crosby’s biggest foe has been concussions. They have threatened his career more than anything else, and they will not go away. It may take a few more seasons, but very soon, Crosby will have to make a decision regarding the health of his brain. He has managed to remain the best player in the world through a constant battle against one of the most daunting injuries in sports.
How much longer does he have?
He may escape without another incident, but that is less than likely. Too often have great careers been cut short by concussions. Paul Kariya and Eric Lindros are two of the most prominent names that follow that sentiment.
If Sidney Crosby can maintain his health, we could expect to see him play an 18th, 19thor even 20thseason. His contract lasts until 2024-25, which would be that 20thyear. After that, nothing is certain. Sid will probably not take the route of Jaromir Jagr, but nothing is out of the question.
For now, the focal point is his health. Protect the head, and we should be able to watch him skate out the full tenure of his contract.