By: Casey Shea

This was supposed to be a weekend to celebrate the game of hockey and its biggest stars, but Sidney Crosby’s health put a damper on the festivities.

This is by no means a critical commentary on the timing of the most specific bit of information any of us have gotten about the nature of his injuries.

I settled in to watch the Skills Competition when the news broke.

A report on stated that an MRI showed what was believed to be an, “abnormality with Crosby’s C1 and C2 vertebrae.”

Now, I’m clearly not a doctor and I don’t play one on television or on this blog. After some research, the area of Crosby’s neck we are discussing is the topmost part of the spine.

Now, the Penguins released a statement Saturday night essentially saying the neck injury portion of Crosby’s situation has healed.

“The diagnosis of Dr. Robert S. Bray, a neurological spine specialist based in Los Angeles, is that Sidney Crosby had suffered a neck injury in addition to a concussion. Dr. Bray reports that the neck injury is fully healed. Those findings will be evaluated by independent specialists over the next few days. The most important goal all along has been Sidney’s return to full health, and we are encouraged that progress continues to be made.”

My first question after seeing this news was simply, how did this get missed by so many people?

It’s not a knock on the Penguins’ doctors or medical staff, but Crosby’s been out of the lineup since Dec. 5 and this neck issue was just discovered this week?

Either this was known and was just released or this was completely missed altogether.

I’m hoping that this injury was picked up on rather quickly as was the cause for Crosby scheduling these appointments with specialists over the last couple of weeks.

The next question that came to mind was more speculative in nature.

For the record, I have no inside knowledge of this situation and the following inquiry is something I am fairly certain will be addressed by the team at some point.

Due to the location of the injury being at the top of the spine or neck area, could this actually have been suffered as a result of the high hit Victor Hedman doled out over a year ago?

The principal point of contact in that situation was Crosby’s neck area.

Again, none of this has been confirmed by the team or Crosby, but I cannot recall a direct blow to the neck area during his brief eight-game return to the lineup this season.

The point is, we won’t know until the question is asked. For now, it’s just food for thought.

What is also unclear to me from the various statements and stories on Saturday is whether or not Crosby is dealing with a second concussion or not. Could the neck injury be playing a role in why he is/was experiencing “concussion-like symptoms?”

Again, it’s another question that I’m sure will be answered in the coming days.

On top of all the Crosby news to come out on Saturday, the first section of the Civic Arena’s roof was brought down.

I’m not a native Pittsburgher, but I was really hoping that the building would be saved or reused in some way.

My first trips to Pittsburgh were centered around watching Penguins games in that building. I got to see Mario Lemieux play in person for the first time there in 2003.

I’ll never forget Lemieux splitting Ottawa’s defense and roofing a shot over Patrick Lalime to light the lamp.

While I was unable to locate the highlights of that game, I did find the box score and I spent a good few minutes trying to wrap my head around the roster the Pens displayed that evening.

(Side note: I ended up watching Lemieux torch Garth Snow in his final game before retirement in 1997 several times on YouTube during the aforementioned search. My ears are still ringing from Gary Thorne’s call and the crowd’s exuberance. What a moment.)

All you need to know is that Rico Fata was playing on a line with Lemieux for most of the game.

Here’s the link in case you feel like ruining your weekend some more.

Despite the loss and the sore vocal chords from yelling at Fata, (seriously, how do you screw up several backdoor chances when No. 66 is setting you up?) Lemieux’s goal made the trip for me.

I came back a year later in March of 2004 and witnessed Andy Chiodo stand on his head in the third period to lock down a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Chiodo made 17 saves in the third period in that game.

The Penguins ended a 16-game home winless streak that day. Those were some dark times indeed.

I made several other trips to the Igloo over the years until moving here in the summer of 2009.

I finally got to witness my first playoff game in the spring of 2010 in that building as well.

Granted, the Pens lost and it has given me a complex about going to future playoff games, but I’m glad I was able to get there and experience the building one final time in all its glory.

While the building itself will be gone within a couple of months, the memories Penguins fans have will never be forgotten.

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For More Penguins Coverage Check Out Puck Talk With Popchock.


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