Did Crosby's Concussion Get Penguins Medical Staff Fired?

The doctor at the center of at least some of the controversy surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of Sidney Crosby's concussion has parted ways with the team. The team denies there's a link to The Kid's decision to seek outside medical advice during his treatment.

What do you think?

The team maintains it's strictly a result of a new business venture with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The Pens and UPMC plan to co-open a training and sports medicine center in 2014 in a northern Pittsburgh suburb. The new venture will be similar to the one UPMC has with the NFL's Steelers.

As a result of the move, Dr. Charles Burke, the orthopedic surgeon who was the team physician and the man who twice cleared Sid the Kid to play hockey last season, lost his job. In fact, the entire medical team, right down to the EMS workers and vision and dental specialists associated with the team, received pink slips. None of the staff who were released had affiliation with UPMC; the new arrangement allows the team to have access to more than 15 UPMC specialists, as well as a physician who travels with the team on all road trips.

Controversy swirled around Burke, the medical team and the Penguins immediately following Crosby's injury and during the recovery protocols. As you remember, Crosby was injured on January 1, 2011 during the Winter Classic. He returned to the game and was allowed to play four days later only to suffer another head injury, this one courtesy of Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman. The concussion diagnosis finally came on January 6 and Crosby didn't return until November.

He lasted eight games.

It was then that Crosby and his team of handlers sought outside medical advice from physicians, one of whom diagnosed a neck injury that was previously undetected. Burke was not involved with Crosby's day-to-day treatment at any time, but did have to clear him to play. Crosby was cleared again by Burke and returned for 22 games, recording 37 points. His health is currently fine.

There have been lots of moments over time when players have sought outside opinions (remember Eric Lindros?). And it should be noted that neither Crosby nor his team ever criticized Burke or the Pens' medical team.

But where there's smoke, there's often fire. And the night last November when Kris Letang returned to the ice in OT after suffering "just" a broken nose courtesy of a big hit from Max Pacioretty sent up serious smoke signals to me. Letang didn't play again until mid-January because of concussion-like symptoms. From that hit. The one that he was allowed to return from ...

Remind you of anyone?

It's probably coincidence and not conspiracy. But there are plenty of people out there who would beg to differ. All I can say is, Good luck, to the new medical staff. It's certainly not a low-profile job.


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