The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without their captain for an undetermined amount of time after today’s concussion diagnosis.
This isn’t the first time that Sidney Crosby has missed time due to head injuries, though. Over the course of his twelve-year NHL career, Crosby has missed 168 games. The vast majority have been in the last seven years, where he has missed 129 games out of a possible 540.
Let’s take a look at Crosby’s history of major injuries:
2007-08 – missed 29 games with a high-ankle sprain – Crosby crashed feet-first into the boards during a mid-January game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He played just seven games over the rest of the season, ending up with 53 games-played.
2010-11 – missed 41 games with a concussion – During the 2011 Winter Classic, Capitals forward David Steckel caught Crosby with a blind-side hit as the puck went passed the Penguins’ captain. Crosby returned to the lineup for the next game, but took an innocent-looking hit from Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman behind the net. For the second time in two games, Crosby left the game holding his head. He didn’t play again that season; it was an early end to one of the most dominant seasons in recent history, as Crosby had 66 points in 41 games. That included a 25-game point streak where he scored 51 points.
2011-12 – missed 60 games with concussion-related symptoms – Not only did Crosby miss the final half of the 2010-11 season, he missed the first 20 games of the following season. Many fans will remember Crosby’s legendary return to action, when he scored four points in a 5-0 win over the New York Islanders. Unfortunately, after eight games, an awkward hit from Bruins center David Krejci lead to Crosby being diagnosed with soft-tissue issues in addition to the return of his concussion symptoms. Crosby returned in mid-March and played the final 14 games of the season and participated in the Penguins’ six-game loss to rival Philadelphia. In 22 regular season games, Crosby had 37 points. He followed that up with eight points in six playoff games.
2012-13 – missed 13 games with a broken jaw – After a dominant lockout-shortened season, Crosby missed the end of the regular season and first game of the playoffs after he took a (then-teammate) Brooks Orpik shot to the face. He retuned early in the playoffs, scoring 15 points in 14 games as the Penguins were swept by the Bruins in the Eastern Final.
2016-17 – missed 6 games with a concussion – Crosby enjoyed three mostly-healthy seasons between 2013 and 2016. After winning the Stanley Cup and World Cup in four months, the injury bug struck again. Crosby suffered another concussion in an unspecified incident at Penguins practice. He missed the final pre-season game and the first six games of the regular season, before returning to his dominant form, posting 89 points in 75 games and winning the Art Ross to go along with nominations for the Hart and Lindsay awards.
Based on his history of interrupted comebacks, the Penguins need to be careful with Crosby’s return. The potential for a repeat championship is dwarfed by the future health of their superstar.