Sidney Crosby said today that he might have gotten a concussion when he was leveled by Washington's David Steckel during the Winter Classic last Saturday night, but it wasn't until during a home game Wednesday night against Tampa Bay that he felt symptoms that prompted him to go to doctors.
"Who knows when I actually got it," the Penguins All-Star center said in the locker room after his teammates went through a morning skate at Consol Energy Center in advance of tonight's game against Minnesota.
Crosby got again hit again against Tampa Bay, this time from behind into the boards by the Lightning's Victor Hedman, but finished the game. He consulted with doctors, then flew with the team to Montreal. When he still felt ill the next morning--"You just feel off...headaches, a little sick," he said--he returned to Pittsburgh and was diagnosed with a mild concussion.
"Wednesday during the game I just didn't feel right," Crosby said, indicating that the problems began that night before Hedman's hit. "Throughout the game, I didn't feel right. Does that mean I had all these huge symptoms? No. There are times when you play and you know there's a difference.
"That's when I went to the doctor after the game and just told him that things felt a little off. At that point, that's when my head was starting to bother me a little bit more. Leading up to that, it was a lot more neck than it was head. That was to be expected considering what happened on Saturday night.
"You're hit a lot in hockey and you have neck soreness. That's pretty typical. You deal with that a lot. But Wednesday, when it started to be more of my head and I felt a little off, that's when there was kind of a red flag."
Crosby will be idle until he is symptom-free.
He and coach Dan Bylsma deflected criticism that the team and medical personnel erred in not testing him for a concussion following the Winter Classic.
"After the Winter Classic game, he had neck symptoms," Bylsma said. "He did not have concussion symptoms."
"Looking back, I wouldn't have changed anything we did," Crosby said. "It's maybe easy to [be critical] now, but I didn't have any head [issues]. It didn't feel like a concussion. It seemed to be all neck-related."
Crosby said he thought the two hits he absorbed fell under the NHL's crackdown on hits to the head. Steckel was not penalized; Hedman received a boarding penalty. The league reviews all such hits and did not suspend either player.
"When I look at those two hits and we talk about blindside--that's a big word--and unsuspecting player...there's no puck there on both of them," Crosby said. "It was a direct hit to the head on both of them. When you go through the criteria, I think they fit all those."
Meanwhile, winger Matt Cooke will return to the lineup tonight. He flew home from Montreal with Crosby Thursday and missed that night's game because of what he called "a family illness."
Shelly Anderson: email@example.com or 412-263-1721