A Verbatim Play for Voices
(in order of appearance)
USA Today, a newspaper
Sidney Crosby, a Pittsburgh centre
Dave Steckel, a big Washington centre
Dan Bylsma, a Pittsburgh coach
Brooks Orpik, a Pittsburgh defenceman
Pierre LeBrun, an ESPN reporter
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a newspaper
Victor Hedman, a Tampa Bay defenceman
Jordan Staal, a Pittsburgh centre
Kris Letang, another Pittsburgh defenceman
Don Cherry, a commentator
Bruce Boudreau, a Washington coach
Ray Shero, a Pittsburgh general manager
Arron Asham, a Pittsburgh winger
Dr. Mickey Collins, a sports-concussion expert
Dr. Ted Carrick, a professor of clinical neurology
Ken Dryden, a former goalie
Deryk Engelland, yet another Pittsburgh defenceman
JR, a former player
The Gazette, one more newspaper
Scene One, January 2
(An outdoor rink. Sounds of rain falling, crowd-murmur, skates on ice, then — a collision, followed by a collapse.)
USA TODAY: (Live blogging.) Wow, Sidney Crosby was waylaid by David Steckel. Big smack. Can you imagine the uproar, if Crosby or Alex Ovechkin were hurt seriously in an outdoor game?
SIDNEY: I couldn’t even tell you what happened.
DAVE: I didn’t even know it was him until I looked back. I haven’t even seen the hit yet, obviously it wasn’t intentional. I was just trying to get up to the play and he was there when I turned around I guess.
DAN: I don’t know exactly what happened at all.
Scene Two, January 4
(Ominous organ music.)
BROOKS: It was definitely dirty. Sid was just skating by and he definitely wasn’t near the puck. (Pauses.) We still play him a couple of times.
PIERRE: (Tweeting.) For what it’s worth, NHL looked at Steckel/Crosby hit and ruled it incidental contact. No discipline for Steckel.
Scene Three, January 7
(Sounds of newspaper rustling.)
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: (Headlining.) Mild concussion sidelines Crosby against Canadiens
DAN: When he woke up this morning we decided he wasn’t going to play tonight. (Thinks.) He’s got to be symptom-free but I’d say he’ll be out about a week.
TRIBUNE-REVIEW: The case with Crosby, according to the Penguins, is that he was injured Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center in a blowout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Changes paragraph.) In that game, Crosby was hit hard into the boards by Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman late in the second period. He played six shifts in the third period.
VICTOR: I don’t really remember the play. It was just a hit. I never am going to go in and try to hurt somebody. It’s too bad he got a concussion. It wasn’t on purpose. I’m sorry he got a concussion.”
JORDAN: He’s not really sure what happened or what’s going on but obviously he’s not happy. I’m sure he’ll be back before we know it.
Scene Four, January 8
SIDNEY: It’s a little bit different than a shoulder or things like that, that you can play through in the course of the season. It’s pretty serious.
DAN: There isn’t a person who we would put on the ice that has concussion symptoms. We were acutely aware of those symptoms and dealing with our doctors. He did not go into the Tampa Bay game with any symptoms that we felt were concussion-related.
SIDNEY: I feel he could have gotten out of the way and avoided me. Whether he tried to hurt me, only he knows.
Scene Five, January 11
KRIS: We miss him a lot — he’s the best player in the league. Obviously, we want him back in the lineup. But it’s not a reason to blow a 2-0 lead.
Scene Six, January 18
SIDNEY: (Quietly.) It’s tough to put a timetable on it.
Scene Seven, January 19
(A TV studio. Coach’s Corner theme. Sounds of co-host cocking eyebrow.)
DON: I come on right after that and I said, ‘The kid meant to hit him. He saw him.’ I didn’t say he set it up, but he hit him. The old story is if you hit something you look back, what did I hit. He knew he hit him. And I said, ‘Crosby was hurt,’ because you could just tell, his head. He got up and played the period and then he played the next game. But, I said, ‘This kid is hurt,’ because you can just tell after you’re in the game a long time you know when it’s a real good hit to the head.
Scene Eight, February 6
(Sounds of Washington.)
BRUCE: Anybody that knows Dave Steckel knows that it was totally accidentally, whether Don Cherry wants to say it wasn’t or whomever.
Scene Nine, February 10
(Sounds of slight frustration.)
SIDNEY: I hope I’m back, and geez, I hope I play this year.
Scene Ten, March 30
(Sounds of managing expectations.)
RAY: This is a complex injury. I think we’re happy as to where he is in terms of getting back on the ice. His off-ice program’s continuing, which is good. That’s really where we are. (Looks around.) As a manager, I have no expectation that he’s coming back to play in the regular season. I don’t believe that’s going to happen.
Scene Eleven, April 1
(Sounds of springtime.)
ARRON: He looks good. I’m pretty sure he could lace them up tonight and play and be a force.
Scene Twelve, June 27
(Sounds of summertime.)
DAN: He’s been working out two times a day and progressing along his normal road of summer activity.
Scene Thirteen, July 2
(Sounds of nonchalance.)
DAN: The schedule with Sidney, we thought he would return sometime this week. There wasn’t a definite date or definite day. (Clears throat.) Right now, I haven’t had a lot of contact. He’s in contact with our trainer just to let him know how he’s feeling and so forth. There really isn’t a timeframe, as far as we’re concerned at this point, of getting him back into town.
Scene Fourteen, August 16
RAY: He’s got to be himself. He’s got his home. He’s back in Halifax. He’s on the water. He does a lot of fishing. He hangs out with his friends. He just turned 24. He wants to be a kid and enjoy himself. (Pause.) He’ll be back here soon enough, and we’ll be happy when he gets back.
Scene Fifteen, August 23
(Sounds of gathering hysteria.)
THE TORONTO STAR: Why would Crosby risk an invalid’s life in order to return to a game he has already conquered?
Scene Sixteen, August 25
(Sounds of a wand not waving.)
DAN: I can’t wave a wand and tell you how it’s going to play out.
Scene Seventeen, September 7
(Sounds of a press conference: chairs scraping, cameras rolling, reporters waiting, expectations rising.)
SIDNEY: This is the best I’ve felt for a long time. The last three weeks have been really good. I feel myself getting better and better.
DR. COLLINS: It’s a little complex.
SIDNEY: It’s been a tough road.
DR. CARRICK: This is going to have a very good outcome.
DR. COLLINS: He’s markedly stable.
RAY: He’s worth the wait.
SIDNEY: Ninety per cent is good, but if things aren’t right, 90 percent isn’t good enough.
DR. COLLINS: Sid has made exceptional progress toward improving and becoming normal. In order for him to go back to play, he needs to be reconditioned 100 per cent without having symptoms. There is no timeline on this.
SIDNEY: Retirement? No. I always thought about the consequences of this injury and making sure I’m smart with it because at the end of the day that is the last thing I want. That being said, I did not give a whole lot of thought to it.
Scene Eighteen, September 21
(Rink sounds, post-practice.)
SIDNEY: I’ve gotten bumped kind of accidentally here a couple of times anyway, and it’s been OK. So we’ve just got to see how it goes.
Scene Nineteen, September 30
(Sounds of a familiar voice.)
KEN: The NHL season that begins next week — whether Crosby plays at all, or how well — will be about Crosby.
Scene Twenty, October 5
DAVE: I feel bad he’s not back playing. No way was it intentional, I didn’t see him and if you look at the video you’ll see that. I tried to tell the rest of the players on the ice that when it happened.
Scene Twenty-One, October 12
(Sounds of a different voice, also familiar.)
JR: I love watching Sidney Crosby, but aren’t you guys sick of all this by now? (Tsks.) I’m sick and tired of listening to Sidney Crosby saying, ‘Nothing’s new yet, nothing’s new yet.’ Just don’t interview him anymore. I know he’s the best player in the league, the best player in the world. Head shots are very, very difficult. I’m not saying he’s not hurt. There’s no question. I’ve been hit very, very hard. I understand what concussions are all about — you have to be very concerned about this. But enough.
Scene Twenty-Two, October 13
(Sounds of leaves falling and optimism rising.)
SIDNEY: It’s a good step in the right direction. (Sweating.) It’s a big step … it’s a big one and we’ll see how things go. (Smiles.) But I don’t think it’s hard to be patient at this point. I’m getting closer and I want to make sure I respond well in the next however long it is.
Scene Twenty-Three, October 14
THE TORONTO STAR: His concussion symptoms apparently abating, Sidney Crosby was cleared for contact in practice on Thursday for the first time since suffering a concussion last January.
DAVE: I’m happy he’s back. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy for him. (Looks up.) It was accidental. I feel bad that he was hurt and he was out. It’ s not like I feel I can move on with my life. It has been going on.
Scene Twenty-Four, November 2
(Sounds of skates on ice and of Deryk Engelland shoving Sidney to the ice.)
SIDNEY: I was just making a move. I was kind of standing up straight, and he didn’t even get me that hard, but I was off-balance. I went for a bit of a ride there. (Tilts head.) I’m not purposely trying to go out there and get rocked. I’m trying to make it as game-like as possible.
Scene Twenty-Five, November 6
(Sounds of patience fraying.)
DAN: There’s no timetable. There’s no date. There’s no point in the future worth talking about yet.
Scene Twenty-Six, November 8
(Sounds of excited reporters, baited breaths.)
THE GAZETTE: (Cautiously.) Crosby: Maybe, possibly, could play Friday
SIDNEY: Everyone else’s guesses are as good as mine. (Purses lips.) I just tell them how I feel. That’s usually how it goes, giving feedback and letting them know how I’m feeling. They usually have tests or ways of evaluating. It’s kind of a combination of what I’m telling them and their expert opinion.
DAN: We are not waiting for an epiphany to make a decision. He’s progressing. He’s going down that road. I’ll reiterate to you again, there is not a timetable or a date right now that we know and you don’t. He’s continuing to practice with the team.
SIDNEY: I’d love it to be. But I would have loved it to be on the West Coast trip, too — but I didn’t play there.
DAVE: It’s the same question I answered when he was given clearance for body contact. I wish him all the best. I mean, it was unintentional and I hope he comes back sooner rather than later. I’m sure Sidney is as sick as I am of answering the same questions day in and day out as I am. There’s not much more I can say about it. I am just reiterating what happened and how I feel about it. Obviously you don’t like to see anybody out for that long so hopefully he’s okay. (Pause.)