NHL All-Star Game: Pittsburgh Penguins Star Sidney Crosby’s Absence Raises Another Question


Jan 21, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) battle for the puck during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Strange but true: After Thursday’s announcement that he would miss the NHL All-Star Game festivities with a lower-body injury, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby will have participated in exactly one midseason exhibition in his 10 pro seasons.

Now, there is an asterisk next to that fact, as Crosby probably would have played in 2006, 2010 and 2014 if the NHL’s Olympic excursions didn’t preempt the All-Star Game each time. Also, the 2013 event was cancelled by the league’s latest lockout, so that makes four missed opportunities.

Still, it’s rather remarkable that arguably the league’s preeminent talent of the past decade has had only one chance to display his talents in the one event set aside for precisely that purpose.

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I admit to having some initial skepticism regarding Crosby’s withdrawal. I understand the All-Star Game and surrounding events are completely insignificant when compared to the regular season, but if his injury is bad enough to skip the trip to Columbus, why didn’t he sit out earlier this week?

(UPDATE: The Penguins have announced that Crosby sustained the injury Jan. 10 in Montreal and has attempted to play through it. He received an injection as part of the treatment.)

It’s not like a pair of games in January are going to make or break the Penguins’ Stanley Cup chances. If Crosby was jeopardizing his long-term health in the quest for a couple more points in the standings, I’m not sure that was the right choice.

Furthermore, how hard do you really have to push yourself in an exhibition setting? It’s not like Crosby had to go all-out in Saturday’s fastest skater competition or backcheck like a demon in Sunday’s game. Again, if he was able to take it to the limit in strenuous games against the Flyers and Blackhawks, what more harm could be done this weekend?

Then again, perhaps Crosby’s injury was aggravated in those back-to-back matchups, both of which carried a little more adrenaline than your typical regular-season contest. Maybe he woke up Thursday and realized that he needs to stay off the ice for a few days.

I suppose that’s what it comes down to. We on the outside only know what we’re told. Crosby has no obvious incentive to stick it to the NHL by not showing up in central Ohio, so ultimately it makes sense to take him at his word.

If I had to describe Crosby’s all-star absence – and the similar case of Evgeni Malkin – in one word, I would choose disappointing. We only get so many chances as fans to watch the best of the best do their thing, and the weekend in Columbus will be significantly dulled without two of the world’s top players in attendance.

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