The headline on the Penguins' official site, which has some editorial independence but is for all purposes the NHL's Pravda: "Crosby Visits Leading Specialists."
It's been nearly eight months since Crosby last played an NHL game, suffering one, maybe two concussions . Since then his rehab has been a series of fits and starts and secrets and lies, as if medical updates aren't allowed out of the quiet, dark room where players recover from their concussions.
So how to take this, what amounts to a lengthy team statement? It starts off positively enough, promising that Crosby will make a full recovery. That's good. It also says no one has any idea when that might be. That's bad. It goes on to say that Crosby thought he was close to 100 percent, but the symptoms returned, and he's flown around the country getting opinions from leading concussion specialists. Top men. That's very bad.
What's the point of coming out with this now, basically admitting they're not sure what it will take to let the NHL's most marketable superstar play hockey again? Crosby's agent Pat Brisson:
"We would appreciate patience and understanding at this time," Brisson said. "There has been a lot of speculation swirling over the past several weeks. We wish we could provide more specific details about Sidney's recovery, but a concussion is a different kind of injury."
Make no mistake, this is a reactionary move. Swirling rumors about Crosby's health, and the Pittsburgh media calling out the Penguins for their secrecy, these things have a way of getting out of control. By saying something now, the awkwardly placed Penguins hope to mute the chatter for a little while longer.
It's a strange situation. The media and fans want constant updates and reassurances, even if there are no updates to give. (More ominously, there are no reassurances to give.) No one thinks that the Pens have anything other than Crosby's health and career in mind—he is their franchise—but the silence has been galling. So we get frustrated, and we take it out on the Penguins, who we perceive as the gatekeepers of information. But here's a thought, and one that should be more terrifying than any equivocating news release: the Penguins aren't silent because they don't want us to understand what's happening with Sidney Crosby; the Penguins are silent because they don't understand what's happening with Sidney Crosby.