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This season, NHL expanded its concussion spotters program to include both personnel in the arena and “a new staff of Central League Spotters [that] will monitor all games from the Player Safety Room in New York.”
What are they looking for? Well, not just a player being hit in the head or crashing headfirst into the boards. What they’re looking for are “certain visible sign(s) under the Protocol, following a direct or indirect blow to the head.”
Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins was concussed in Game 3 of their second-round series against the Washington Capitals. He missed Game 4, but resumed skating and returned to the lineup in Game 5.
His expedited return to the lineup – the Penguins deferred to their team doctors, who said Crosby passed the concussion protocol before Game 5 – was already a point of controversy. Then on Monday night, Crosby crashed headfirst into the boards in the first period, in a scary scene:
As you can see, he gets nudged by John Carlson and takes a fall into the end boards. He gets up slowly, but eventually skates away. Crosby didn’t go to the back, and was on the ice at the end of the period. He skated out with the team to start the second period.
Look, it’s entirely possible that the spotters saw Crosby finish his shift and determined that he was good to go. Maybe what we presume to be reasons to take him off the ice, and put him the concussion protocol, aren’t enough. There are criteria they’re looking for. Apparently they didn’t see it.
But when a player crashed into the boards like that, a week removed from a concussion…
Was very surprised concussion spotter did not pull him after this one. https://t.co/K1h3Wnm9vy
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 9, 2017
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