A look at Sidney Crosby’s NHL concussion history

Watch as Matt Niskanen five minute major penalty for cross checking Sidney Crosby in the face.

The hockey world shook on Monday night during Game 3 of the Capitals-Penguins series when Sidney Crosby, the world’s best player, was checked in the head and forced to leave the game in the first period.

On Tuesday, the Penguins announced Crosby has been diagnosed with a concussion and will miss Game 4.

It’s at least the fourth concussion of Crosby’s NHL career and again will put into question how long he can play with such a health risk.

According to reports, Niskanen will not be suspended for the play.

Here’s a look at his past concussion history.

January, 2011: Steckel and Hedman hits

This was the beginning of Crosby’s struggles and while many remember the first of these checks, there were actually two contributing factors to Crosby’s first NHL concussion.

The first came on Jan. 1, 2011 at the Winter Classic between Pittsburgh and Washington.

On the play, the puck goes past Crosby (who never has possession) and as he looks behind him and turns to pursue it, David Steckel skates into Crosby and makes direct contact with his head. Crosby fell to the ice, but got up and left under his own power.

Similar to the Niskanen hit, this play was controversial and spurred debates over Steckel’s intent. Steckel is skating up ice in pursuit of the puck and seems to try to avoid Crosby on his way, but was unable to do so. On the other hand, did he do enough to not make direct contact with Crosby’s head? The Capital was not suspended for the play.

Crosby didn’t miss a game, returning to the Penguins lineup four nights later against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But against Tampa Bay, Crosby was hit from behind by Victor Hedman and again he struggled off the ice.

That was the last game Crosby played in the 2010-11 season, finishing with an incredible 66 points in 41 games.

This concussion didn’t just keep Crosby out for the remainder of that season, but also delayed his start to the next season. Crosby didn’t return to Pittsburgh’s lineup until Nov. 21, 2011 against the New York Islanders. He had a four-point game that night.

December, 2011: David Krejci

After returning from the aftermath of the Steckel/Hedman hits, Crosby played eight games between Nov. 21 and Dec. 5, 2011, but was removed from the lineup with concussion symptoms once again. At first, this was a precautionary measure after he was hit in a game against the Boston Bruins, believed to be an elbow by David Krejci. Crosby remained in this game against Boston.

Crosby didn’t return until March 15 against the New York Rangers and he had a two-point game. After the Krejci hit, Crosby was also diagnosed with a soft-tissue injury in his neck that was causing swelling of his top two vertebrae.

He discussed the recurring concussion issues with the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge and admitted he wondered if he wouldn’t play pro hockey again.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I thought about it,” he told Mansbridge.

In all, Crosby was limited to 22 games in 2011-12, recording 37 points.

October 2016: Practice

Over the four seasons following the Krejci play, Crosby was relatively healthy, missing 12 games in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season and then playing 80, 77 and 80 games. The worst injury he sustained over that period was probably a broken jaw from an errant puck in 2013, which forced him out of action and upon his return, Crosby had to wear facial protection.

But at the start of the 2016-17 season, the hockey world was surprised to learn Crosby had been diagnosed with another concussion and this one didn’t come from any in-game action.

After being a finalist for the Hart Trophy the season before, winning the Conn Smythe as his Penguins raised the Stanley Cup and leading Canada to a World Cup win, Crosby was expected to have another big year. But it was put off course right away as he was forced to miss the start of the season after sustaining a concussion in practice.

This time, Crosby wasn’t held out of the lineup too long, returning on Oct. 25 against Florida, a game in which he scored a goal.

Crosby remained concussion-free the rest of the regular season, playing a total of 75 games and scoring 89 points to tie Patrick Kane for second in league scoring. He again was named a Hart Trophy finalist on Monday night, just prior to the Niskanen incident.


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