Sidney Crosby can look forward to the start of his ninth National Hockey League season and the 2014 Sochi Olympics without the distractions of previous concussion problems.
In an exclusive, candid one-on-one interview with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge, which aired Wednesday night on The National, Crosby said he was symptom-free.
When asked if he was experiencing any recurring concussion symptoms, Crosby said, "Nothing. It's been good."
But the Pittsburgh Penguins captain and star centre wasn't always so certain about his health. Crosby said the thought of never playing hockey again did occur to him.
"It crosses your mind," Crosby said. "I think when you're not able to do your everyday things, let alone be a professional athlete, be at that level you need to be at — I mean, that seems like it's miles away. So yeah, absolutely that crosses your mind. I'd be lying if I said it didn't."
Since winning the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, and lifting Canada to Olympic gold at the Vancouver Games in 2010, hits to the head have forced Crosby to the sidelines. After an incident at the 2011 Winter Classic, his next two NHL campaigns were disrupted by concussion symptoms.
Then in a lockout-shortened 2013 season, the Cole Harbour, N.S., native led the league in scoring before taking a puck to the face ahead of the playoffs.
Even though he suffered a broken jaw, Crosby said his recovery from the injury provided an indication that he was over his concussion problems.
"The shot to the face was probably the biggest test," he said. "I remember that first week, you're pretty sore obviously where you get hit, but you're just kind of hoping that you're not getting any severe headaches or dizziness."
Mansbridge asked again, "And you had nothing after that?"
Crosby responded, "No, it was great. Other than just the jaw."
On the ice, Crosby says his game hasn't changed.
"I still feel like the physical part is just as enjoyable. I don't go into a corner thinking twice about my head or getting hit."
An extended interview with Crosby will also run this weekend on Mansbridge One On One (Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBC News Network and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBC Television).