For the second time this season, the Sabres will play the Pittsburgh Penguins without Sidney Crosby in the lineup. The best player in the game is out indefinitely due to what is being termed "concussion-like symptoms." Crosby, who missed more than 10 months after suffering a concussion last January, was able to play in just 8 games before being sidelined once again. It appears a collision with Boston's David Krecji is what started the trouble although Crosby played the rest of the game that night. He had a headache after the game and said he was experiencing the "concussion-like" symptoms following some light exertion this past weekend.
The Penguins and Crosby took as much time as they needed and every precaution during his first absence and one would think they would do so again. His story has led some to document stories of other NHL players whose careers were shortened by concussions. Keith Primeau is one of those players. Primeau spent 14 seasons in the NHL and was forced to retire at the age of 34 due to the cumulative effects of numerous concussions. Some 7 years since he laced up the skates in an NHL contest, Primeau admits he is still affected by all of those concussions with headaches being just one of the problems.
Primeau said Crosby is an ambassador for people who have brain injuries and who have endured head trauma. He told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review that many hockey players make the decision to just play through concussions and that Crosby has become a wonderful role model because he's decided to put his health first. Primeau said the hockey culture of suck it up and play through it may seem like one of courage but it really isn't.
While researching these stories I also found a link to a first hand account from Pat LaFontaine of his concussion history. He too retired early because of the cumulative effects. He described the plays that led to the concussions, how he felt afterwards, his inability to remember details of the game including one game where he scored a goal but had no idea. The darkest days came after the most severe concussion back in 1996 when he was with the Sabres. He talked about many sleepless nights, severe migraine headaches, times of depression and moments where he became so emtional he broke down and cried. LaFontaine eventually got the medical help he needed and came back to play with the Rangers before a collision with a teammate led to another concussion and the end of a standout career. He admitted if it weren't for the hits to the head, he could've played another three or four years but at least LaFontaine has his health now and can enjoy his family and post hockey career. I'm sure that is one reason why Primeau calls Crosby courageous for not trying to just play through this.