The Pittsburgh Penguins have rejected suggestions they mishandled star Sidney Crosby's first-ever concussion.
Coach Dan Bylsma spoke with reporters on Saturday morning and defended the decision not to hold the captain out for the rest of the game after he was blindsided in the Winter Classic last Saturday night.
Crosby then played Wednesday in Pittsburgh against Tampa where he was hit again in the head by Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman.
After exhibiting concussion-like symptoms on Thursday in Montreal, he was pulled from that night's game and sent home for re-evaluation. After that, doctors said Crosby had minor concussion symptoms and would sit for at least a week.
"After the Winter Classic, Crosby did not have concussion symptoms," said Bylsma, on Saturday. "After the Tampa Bay game he was not feeling right.
"Per our doctors orders, if he woke up in the morning feeling the same way, he would need to get evaluated."
Bylsma says Crosby woke up in Montreal not feeling completely well and that was when he was sent home.
Columnists and commentators following the league had been questioning whether the NHL's biggest star should have been removed from the game after taking a post-whistle hit from Washington's Dave Steckel.
The implication was that Crosby actually suffered his concussion at that point, rather than in the next game, something Bylsma's vehemently denied.
"There isn't a person who we would put on the ice that has concussion symptoms," the coach said. "We were acutely aware of those symptoms and dealing with our doctors.
"[Crosby] did not go into the Tampa Bay game with any symptoms that we felt were concussion related."
Cosby himself confirmed the story, saying the Steckel hit left him with a sore neck, something he had experienced before. When the concussion was caused, he had no idea.
"Who knows when I actually got it? Wednesday, during the game I just didn't feel right," Crosby said. "Throughout the game I didn't [against Tampa] I didn't feel right. Does that mean I had all these huge symptoms? No."
It was on Wednesday night "I felt a little off, and that's when I saw the red flag."
As for the hit during the Washington game last Saturday and what happened afterwards, Crosby was supportive of the Penguins' decisions.
"Looking back, I wouldn't have changed anything we did," he said. "It may be easy to say that now, but I didn't have any head problems and it didn't feel like a concussion.
"It seemed to be all neck related. I've had sore necks and that's kind of what it felt like at the time."