Crosby's head-first slide didn't merit removal from Game 6

An NHL concussion spotter did not find Sidney Crosby's head-first slide into the boards as a valid reason to remove him from the Pittsburgh Penguins' Game 6 loss to the Washington Capitals on Monday night.

NHL concussion spotter made decision based on protocol criteria

Penguins centre Sidney Crosby missed Game 4 against Washington with a concussion, but was not removed from Game 6 on Monday despite a head-first slide into the boards. (Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press)

A week after he was knocked out of playoff game with a concussion, Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby slid headfirst into the boards during another tense game against the Washington Capitals.

He did not come out of Game 6 on Monday night.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press in an email Tuesday that the league's centralized concussion spotter decided the play did not meet concussion protocol criteria that require mandatory removal from play.

The protocol states a player must be removed if a spotter sees symptoms in a player who takes a blow to his head or upper torso from another player's shoulder, his head hitting the ice or from a punch to the head.

Crosby slid into the boards exactly one week after he was knocked out of Game 3 by a blow to the head from the Capitals' Matt Niskanen. He missed Game 4 with a concussion and returned for Game 5 on Saturday.

On Tuesday after practice, Crosby said he was checked by a doctor Monday night during the first intermission, but did not go into concussion protocol.

"Any guy that goes into the boards like that, the first thing is the trainer and the doctors, that's how it goes," Crosby said. "What you're talking about is the difference between checking with a doctor and entering concussion protocol, they're two separate things."

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after the 5-2 loss and again Tuesday that Crosby was not in the protocol.

"If they go through the protocol then I usually get notified by our medical staff, that's the process," Sullivan said. "That's completely out of our control."

New addition 

The league added centralized spotters this season who have the authority to remove players if they see symptoms of a concussion, like the NFL.

During the regular season, Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid expressed his displeasure for being pulled from a game by a spotter after his chin hit the ice, and goaltenders Mike Smith and Henrik Lundqvist criticized the system they consider flawed.

Daly said he can't answer whether the league would consider adding hitting the boards to the list requiring mandatory removal from play. He said current criteria are based on a study that determined what events on the ice were "more likely indicators or predictors of [a] concussion."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.