“Mike, were you concerned when you saw Sid sort of slow to get up a couple times in the first, and was he evaluated for a concussion in the first intermission?” a reporter asked Sullivan.
“No … No …” Sullivan said, and he did not elaborate.
When Crosby was asked if he was evaluated following that play, the Penguins’ star said, “Yeah, yeah … Pretty standard.” He also did not elaborate or indicate if he was specifically evaluated for a concussion. He did not immediately leave the ice after the play, rejoining the Penguins’ power play for a defensive-zone faceoff.
“When you go in like that, it just kind of knocked the wind out of me,” Crosby said. “It was a fluky fall, but not one you want to make too often.”
This past October, the NHL announced updates to its concussion protocol, the centerpiece of which was a new staff of “Central League Spotters” that would monitor all contests from the NHL’s Player Safety Room in New York.
The October announcement states: The spotters are “authorized to require a Player’s removal from play for evaluation for concussion if the Player exhibits certain visible sign(s) under the Protocol, following a direct or indirect blow to the head. In-Arena League Spotters and On-Ice Officials will complement the Central League Spotters and will also monitor play for signs of possible concussion.”
The NHL’s concussion protocol for the 2016-17 season lists six situations that would warrant an “acute evaluation” for a possible concussion.
The first is if a player exhibits one or more of nine listed symptoms, including disorientation, after a direct or indirect blow to the head. The second is “lying motionless on the ice,” defined as a player lying motionless on the ice or falling to the ice in an unprotected manner. The third is a player exhibiting “motor coordination/balance problems.” The fourth is a player exhibiting a “blank or vacant look.” The fifth is when a player is “slow to get up” or “clutches his head.” The sixth is when a “Player exhibits any other sign, symptom or behavior that leads Club medical personnel to suspect that a Player has sustained a possible concussion.”
The protocol specifies that fifth situation stated above, saying it is warranted for evaluation if the player clutches his head or any part of his face after three kinds of plays: a blow to the player’s head or upper torso from another player’s shoulder, the player’s head making secondary contact with the ice, or when the player is punched in the head by an ungloved fist during a fight. Then, if the player is “slow to Get Up or Clutches his Head following a mechanism of injury other than the three listed above, removal from play is not mandatory and Club medical staff shall exercise their medical judgment as to whether to remove the Player for an acute evaluation.”
The protocol states that “identification and removal of Players who require an acute evaluation for possible concussion pursuant to this Protocol is a Club level responsibility,” and that Central and In-Arena Spotters assist with that process.
The public concern surrounding Crosby is heightened because it has been just seven days since he sustained a concussion on a high cross-check by Matt Niskanen. That was the fourth reported concussion of his career and kept him out of Game 4 last Wednesday. The 29-year-old has missed 115 games due to concussion-related issues.
One of the effects of numerous concussions is that the threshold for future head injuries is lower, two concussion experts told The Post last week. That is only to say that Crosby, based on research, has grown more likely to sustain a concussion after each recurring head injury.