Dr. David Chao: Even With Game 7, Don’t See How Penguins Can Risk Playing Sidney Crosby

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Game 7 is all hands on deck vs the Rangers and even if the Penguins brass desperately want him to play, the appearance by Sidney Crosby skating at practice without a non-contact jersey is likely false hope and gamesmanship.


If Crosby plays Sunday, we will take the L but don’t see how that makes sense medically. I am the first to admit that I have not seen/examined the player or seen his scans but this seems the only logical conclusion and I am not alone.

After Concussion Confirmation, Sidney Crosby Likely Out Game 7

A current NHL medical director and team physician (not for the Penguins), told me he agreed our analysis but out of respect for his fellow physicians, his name will purposely not be quoted. He does have well over two decades of direct NHL medical experience as well as decades more in many other professional sports.

True there is no longer a five-day minimum rule, which changed in 2016-2017. However, this would only be four days. Yes, physicians are free to use their medical judgment but all doctors want to do the right thing and abide by the Hippocratic oath of “first do no harm.”


This timeline is quick and similar for an NFL player who is concussed on Sunday to return for Thursday and would be unprecedented in the NHL, especially with Crosby’s extensive concussion history.

It happened on this play and though the team has only said “upper-body injury,” national reporters have confirmed concussion.

Getting on the ice to progress thru some activity is part of the normal return to play protocol. Clearly, even without a “red” jersey, every Pittsburgh teammate knows not to touch him in practice.

To be clear, I am not being critical of the Pittsburgh medical staff at all. Rather I am being complimentary and stating exactly the opposite. UPMC is the dominant sports medicine force in town with many quality physicians who have a stranglehold on the local sports medicine landscape, including very prominent head injury specialists that are national leaders in the field.

If they allow Crosby to play, that means he never had a concussion or they would have to come forward with another plausible explanation. It is my belief that the quality doctors are not playing games here but in a key game 7, the team is trying for misdirection, and who can blame them.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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