NHL

Couch Side Podcast Episode 54: High On The Heat


Will the Miami Heat return to the NBA Finals this year? Photo by: Paolo Rosa / Flickr

Will the Miami Heat return to the NBA Finals this year? Photo by: Paolo Rosa / Flickr

BY Couchsideshow.com staff

CLICK HERE TO START LISTENING: 

Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul have had a lot on their plate lately, but they’re back for another exciting episode of the podcast. After a two week hiatus, the hosts return to dish out some NFL offseason grades, talk all things Tim Tebow, dive into the NBA playoffs, examine Tiger Woods’ Players championship win and criticize the voting of the NBA All-Defensive Team. Click below to start streaming, downloading or subscribing to the Couch Side podcast:

•  Click here to stream the Couch Side Podcast Episode 54: High On The Heat, via our host site, TalkShoe

• Click here to download the Couch Side Podcast Episode 54: High On The Heat, via our host site, TalkShoe

• Click here to stream, download or subscribe to the Couch Side Podcast Episode 54: High On The Heat, via iTunes


2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round Preview / Predictions


BY BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com senior blogger

 And just like that, the 2013 NHL season is over with. Quick, right? I know, but that’s what you get when a lockout threatens to cancel another season under the reign of commissioner Gary Bettman. But alas, there was a season played after all consisting of 48 games and after all the hubbub and chaos, the first round playoff match-ups are set. There are some good ones and of course there are some that will end horribly, and I am here to straighten them out for you and get you informed heading into the postseason. Let’s get to it…

Wait, a fun fact before we get started: This is the first time all “Original Six” teams qualified for the playoffs in the same season since a long time ago.

Carry on…

The Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks claimed the top two seeds in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Photo by: Bridget Samuels / Flickr

The Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks claimed the top two seeds in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Photo by: Bridget Samuels / Flickr

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (8) Minnesota Wild

The Blackhawks enter the playoffs as President’s Trophy winners after finishing with the highest point total through the season. They are a dangerous folk top-to-bottom with great players in all areas and have showed it throughout the year. They started off 21-0-3 and though they kind of went through a rough patch through the middle of the season, they regained their composure and come into the playoffs as the favorites to win it all.

Meanwhile, the Wild are one of those teams you look at and say “What is going on?” They acquired the two biggest prizes on the free agent market this past off season in forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, they have a solid goaltender (Niklas Backstrom) and have a bunch of other talented pieces that should have made them a title favorite. But alas, they were as inconsistent as any playoff team in recent memory and limp into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. They are not a confident group right now in my eyes and are staggering.

While both of these teams were prohibitive favorites entering the season, only one appears to be gelling at the right time and that’s Chicago. They score at will and shut down opposing teams with a ruthless defense, and those are bad signs for slumping Minnesota.

• WINNER: Blackhawks in 5 (more…)


Couch Side Podcast Episode 41: NFL Coaching Carousel (with video)


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

CLICK HERE TO START LISTENING: 

After a nice Christmas/New Year’s break, the Couch Side Podcast crew is back! Tune in to this week’s episode for the common fan’s opinion of the NFL playoffs and NFL coaching searches. In Quick Snippets, co-hosts Wade McMillin and Sean Schoonover discuss the end of the NHL lockout and Javier Vazquez’s possible return to Major League Baseball. Click below to start streaming, downloading or subscribing to the Couch Side Podcast:

•  Click here to stream the Couch Side Podcast Episode 41: NFL Coaching Carousel, via our host site, TalkShoe

• Click here to download the Couch Side Podcast Episode 41: NFL Coaching Carousel, via our host site, TalkShoe

• Click here to stream, download or subscribe to the Couch Side Podcast Episode 41: NFL Coaching Carousel via iTunes


Approved lease agreement provides relief for Glendale, Coyote fans


The Phoenix Coyotes could be in the desert for another 20 years after a lease agreement was reached this week. Photo by: M P R / Flickr

BY BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com blogger

May 5, 2009 and November 27, 2012. Two separate dates that in the 3 years, 6 months and 23 days in between spawned years of turmoil, uncertainty, cheap shots, internet arguments, and countless other immature, childish and un-endearing incidents.

I’m of course talking about the Phoenix Coyotes and their recent struggles off the ice. The two dates are very closely related. The May 5 date is when then-team owner Jerry Moyes plunged the financially-troubled franchise into bankruptcy and created a maelstrom of everything listed above. Fast forward to the November 27 date and the dust has now appeared to settle after the City of Glendale approved a 20-year lease agreement with prospective, and likely, owner Greg Jamison, hopefully ending years of unpredictability.

Its amazing that it took just over three-and-a-half years for a professional sports team to finally be on the brink (and not yet) sold, but the situation with the Coyotes was not exactly what one would call normal. First off, Arizona, mainly the Phoenix-Metro is not exactly a hockey hotbed due to the desert climate. Secondly, the NHL were caught up in numerous legal battles with Moyes, previous Blackberry CEO Jim Balsillie (who wanted to move the team to Canada way back in 2009), the hacks at the Goldwater Institute (a watchdog group with an interest to protect taxpayers, but yet weren’t elected…). Third, potential deals with sports mogul Jerry Reinsdorf (owner of Chicago’s Bulls and White Sox), the Ice Edge Holdings group (still a laughingstock on numerous message boards) and Matthew Hulsizer (who actually had an agreement ready to go, but was summarily blocked by the aforementioned Institute) collapsed faster than the WWE SmackDown ring when Brock Lesnar superplexed Big Show in 2002 (see below).

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NHL player lockout leaves league in a mess


BY IAN PALMER, Feedcrossing.com syndication

Like almost all American professional sports leagues, the National Hockey League may experience a player lockout, putting this season in jeopardy. Photo by: jpellgen / Flickr

The NHL’s in a mess right now due to the player lockout. Players are jumping ship with many of them signing on with European teams to make sure they get a steady paycheck while NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players’ Union rep Donald Fehr try to bang out a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The old one expired on Sept. 15 and as soon as it did Bettman and the owners locked the players out.

The league announced on Sept. 19 that all exhibition games until the end of September have been officially cancelled. This represents 61 games in total. Training camps were supposed to start up on Fri. Sept. 21, but this won’t be happening and there are still 46 exhibition contests scheduled for October, with the league’s opening night pencilled in for Oct. 11. The October exhibition games, which were to run until Oct. 7, haven’t been officially cancelled as of yet, but unless an agreement’s made soon they’ll be the next to go.

One rumor circulating around is the use of replacement players if the lockout continues into the New Year. The league has previously lost a whole season and a half a season in previous labor disputes and this time it might try something drastic to keep itself in the public eye by using replacements for the NHL stars as they earn their money in Europe. (more…)


Couch Side Podcast: Episode 17 — Tiger, Tiger Woods Ya’ll


In this week’s episode, regular co-host Craig Paul is back to join Wade McMillin for discussions about unlawful athletes, Tiger Woods’ future, the Stanley Cup Finals and the best NFL trios. Click below to subscribe, download or stream the latest episode of the Couch Side Podcast …

ere to stream/download Couch Side Episode 12  via iTunes

Click here to stream Couch Side Episode 17: Tiger, Tiger Woods ya’ll via our host site, TalkShoe

Click here to download Couch Side Episode 17: Tiger, Tiger Woods ya’ll via our host site TalkShoe


Couch Side Podcast: Episode 16 — Stanley Cup Finals preview


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

Couch Side’s regular co-host, Craig Paul, makes his much anticipated to this week’s podcast. He joins regular host Wade McMillin for discussions about the Stanley Cup Finals, NFL Quarterback battles, the Roger Clemens trial, the NBA playoffs and sports memorabilia:

Click here to stream/download Couch Side Episode 12  via iTunes

Click here to stream Couch Side Episode 12: NFL Mock Draft via our host site, TalkShoe

Click here to download Couch Side Episode 12: NFL via our host site, TalkShoe


Coyotes season ends in West Finals, but team still manages success


Keith Yandle and the Phoenix Coyotes had a terrific season against all odds. Photo by: Bridget Samuels / Flickr

BY BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com writer 

Ownerless. Starless. Penny-less.

All words, or variations of words, that describe the Phoenix Coyotes. And they never rang more true than this year, a season which saw a ragtag team of role players, veterans and second-chance seekers thrown together in the hopes of achieving something magical.

What transpired was unlike anything ever seen before in the Phoenix-metro area, the state of Arizona and the sports world across the board. A team that absolutely nobody picked to even make the playoffs mustered their way to not only a postseason spot, but a Pacific Division championship to boot.

Sure, the Desert Dogs have a few players on their roster that would be much more heralded and well-known in bigger markets, but you can count them on one hand. But for the others, this was the chance to be part of something bigger, something that would grab attention and something that analysts, fans and casuals look back on say, “Damn, that was fun.”

For nearly 100 games this season, regular season and playoffs combined, the Coyotes busted their ass in their search for glory, coming up just short as they fell to the Los Angeles Kings in five games in the Western Conference Finals. The final game of the season was as good as they get, with end-to-end action, big hits, controversy and a lively, enthusiastic crowd all thrown into the mix, creating a combustible element that seemed ready to explode at any second. (more…)


Couch Side featured on “Shopcade.com”


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

About a week before the NFL Draft began, the folks from shopcade.com contacted Couch Side editor Wade McMillin about promoting one of their contests.

We believed it was in the best interest for this website to do so and in turn, couchsideshow.com would be promoted on Shopcade’s website. Well, that day has come! In Shopcade’s own blog, they profiled McMillin, asking him sports related predictions as well as to point out a few items he like on the website. To check out the blog/profile, click the link below to see how McMillin responded:

Click here for Shopcade’s profile blog on Couch Side creator Wade McMillin


Couch Side Podcast — Episode 13: NFL Draft Recap


After one week off, Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul return to review the 2012 NFL Draft. The gang also discusses Lamar Odom possibly leaving reality TV, the NHL playoffs and Hideki Matsui’s signing with the Tampa Bay Rays. Special guest this week is Heidi Pierce.

Click here to stream/download Couch Side Episode 12  via iTunes

Click here to stream Couch Side Episode 12: NFL Mock Draft via our host site, TalkShoe

Click here to download Couch Side Episode 12: NFL via our host site, TalkShoe


Remaining NHL playoff teams provide new, and better, look


Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne saved 94 percent of the shots he faced in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Photo by: Robert Claypool / Flickr

BY BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com writer

Looking back on my first round NHL predictions, I got five out of the eight series correct in terms of the teams advancing (the Predators, Coyotes, Blues, Rangers and Devils). Out of those predictions, I only hit one on the head (Blues in 5) while I was barely off on the other four except maybe the Rangers, who I had winning in five but needed seven games. I was completely wrong on the Kings/Canucks, Flyers/Penguins and Capitals/Bruins.

But now looking at the second round match-ups, I can honestly say that I am still pleased with the outcomes. Not necessarily because of the games that will be provided, but because looking at the remaining teams gives me great joy because it upsets the established order that has come to define professional hockey in recent years. There are no Red Wings, no Blackhawks, no Penguins, no Bruins and no Canucks. Instead, viewers will get a nice, heavy dose of what people are not used to seeing, for the most part.

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Is Shane Doan the most under-appreciated athlete in Arizona sports history?


BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer

Phoenix Coyotes veteran Shane Doan has been in the Arizona desert for his entire 15-year career, but is he appreciated by fan in the Grand Canyon State? Photo by: Bridget Samuels / Flickr

What are the odds of Shane Doan being recognized if he walked into any random supermarket around Phoenix at any point between 1996 and 2011? I’m not sure, he’s a big guy, but you could find plenty of 6-foot-2, 220-pound bros at your local gym.  If you lined him up with Luis Gonzalez, Steve Nash, and Larry Fitzgerald, who do you think an average Arizona sports fan would gravitate to first?

Maybe at this point his popularity has increased incrementally, but over the past 15 years, given the amount of coverage the Phoenix Coyotes have received, I doubt Arizona fans have given Doan his proper due.

He’s the longest tenured professional athlete in Arizona sports today, and a last remaining member of the original Winnipeg Jets when they moved to downtown Phoenix in 1996, but I’m wondering how much he’s really appreciated overall. To give his time here some perspective, there are no current Expos with the Washington Nationals, and it’s been around seven years since that franchise moved from Montreal. You seldom get players to stick around in the same city for an extended period of time, and Doan has done it with the least popular franchise in Arizona.

How overshadowed has Doan been? Let’s think about the other three sports teams in Phoenix.

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Phoenix Coyotes advance in Stanley Cup Playoffs


Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is emerging as a leader of his team in this year's NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Photo by: Bridget Samuels / Flickr

BY BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com writer

Heartbreak has come to define the Phoenix Coyotes in recent years. They have been plagued by ongoing ownership issues, tepid fan support and playoff disappointments. Just about when they seem ready to turn the page and start a new chapter in their history, they shut down the engine.

Well, its time to pick up the pen again as the Desert Dogs have advanced to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-0 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Six of their series, winning the set 4-2. They now face-off with the Nashville Predators, which eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in five games. The Coyotes series win was the first since the team moved from Winnipeg in 1996, the first time in franchise history since 1987.

This is a team devoid of top talent, relying heavily on their goaltending and team defensive structure. There are no Sidney Crosbys or Alex Ovechkins on this club. No Zdeno Charas or Shea Webers (who Phoenix will meet in the next series). No Henrik Lundqvists or Pekka Rinnes (another Predator). Nobody could’ve ever guessed that a team with Mike Smith as its net minder, 39-year-old Ray Whitney as its best offensive weapon and 20-year-old Oliver Ekman-Larsson leading the defensive corps would get to the playoffs, let alone win their division. But they did it, and have overachieved more than any team in the NHL this season.

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Couch Side Podcast — Episode 12: We’re talking ’bout playoffs


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

In this week’s episode of the Couch Side podcast, the dynamic duo of Craig Paul and Wade McMillin preview the NBA playoffs and analyze the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The hosts also discuss the Denver Broncos signing Brandon Stokley, an odd triple play and UFC 145.

Click here to stream/download Couch Side Episode 12  via iTunes

Click here to stream Couch Side Episode 12: NFL Mock Draft via our host site, TalkShoe

Click here to download Couch Side Episode 12: NFL via our host site, TalkShoe


Edmonton Oilers win NHL Draft Lottery


BY IAN PALMER, Feedcrossing.com contributor

The Edmonton Oilers haven’t lived up to expectations on the ice the past few NHL seasons even though they’ve had the first overall draft pick the last two years. The Oilers will now get a chance to improve their team once again this summer as they will once again draft first overall due to winning the NHL’s draft lottery on Apr. 10.

The Columbus Blue Jackets finished the current regular season in 30th and last place in the league and had a 48 per cent chance to hang onto the number one pick overall.  However, the oilers, who finished in 29th place, had an 18.8 per cent chance at winning the lottery and hit the jackpot with it. Oilers’ general manager Steve Tambellini was obviously happy with his team’s stroke of luck and will be able to add another excellent top prospect to his roster or trade the pick for an established NHL player or two.

The Oilers already have some of the best players in the league, such as Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins thanks to the last two drafts as well as youngsters Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle. Tambellini said if you’re in the draft lottery and have to travel to Toronto you might as well win it. He added that the franchise and its fans are really excited about the outcome and the chance of adding another young star to the squad.

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NHL Western Conference Playoffs: First Round Preview


BY BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com writer 

Its been said that the playoffs are the real season, when the men are separated from the boys and the regular season means nothing. Well, it is that time of the year for the NHL and after a grueling 82-game schedule, 16 teams are in and ready to battle for one of sports’ most recognizable trophies — the Stanley Cup. The following is a breakdown of the Western Conference first-round match-ups, with predictions provided below each series.

 (1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings

Vancouver Canucks center Henrik Sedin led his team in points this season with 81. Photo by: VancityAllie / Flickr

Last year’s Western Conference champs, the Canucks, were a dominant force from top to bottom and appear to be at least 95% of their selves from 2010-11. They are a high-powered offensive club who prides themselves on their name and location, providing an intimidating factor. They blew through the Northwest Division and are the only team from the division to make the playoffs.

The Kings on the other hand blew their chance at the Pacific Division crown but played well enough down the stretch to be considered an upset special. They have a Vezina Trophy caliber goaltender in Jonathan Quick and nice offensive weapons in Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards, but their defense is suspect.

All in all, this should be the most entertaining series to watch with the abundance of offensive talent but the Canucks are rolling into the postseason. They are the more physical team and should wear down LA on both ends.

Canucks in 5

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Professional hockey players should not play in Olympics


Players from the National Hockey League have been allowed to participate in the Winter Olympics since 1995. Photo by: roaming-the-planet / Flickr

BY JOHN SCOTT, Couchsideshow.com contributor

Every four years when the Olympics come around, there’s talk about whether professional hockey players should be allowed to compete in the Winter Olympics.

In all honestly, I think pro hockey players should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics, mainly for two reasons: fame and fortune. A little more than half of the men’s hockey players compete in the NHL, and some teams are made up entirely of NHL players.  The 2014 Olympics is Sochi, Russia, should mainly be comprised of amateur athletes representing their country.

Amateur hockey players should be the ones putting on their country’s jersey because they play the game out of love, not for money. Most Olympic athletes receive monetary support from their country, but these amateur players would much rather play for the love of the game. Many NHLers already make seven figures per year and compete in an 82-game season, sometimes more. They’ve already made it to the top of the hockey level, and it’s time for them to let amateurs take the Olympics. Maybe these amateurs competing in the Olympics can get noticed and move on to a higher level of hockey, such as the NHL.

Also, the NHL players already have the fame in the sport, so why not step aside to let the not-so-popular players noticed? Let the countries show how good they are by the amateur players they can produce, not by how many NHLers they can send to the Olympics.

Five words: 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team. Done. That’s all that needs to be said. This team was a true Olympic team, consisting of 20 college players who ended up beating the supposed unstoppable Sovies. Those are the teams I want to see in the Olympics, and I’m pretty sure I speak for most hockey fans on this one.

Herb Brooks nailed it when he said, “All-Star teams fail because they rely solely on an individual’s talent,” and this quote can go both ways, for All-Star teams and for Olympic teams. The Olympic hockey teams would be better and more fun to watch if they consisted of amateur players because they wouldn’t rely on an individuals talent. Instead, they would work as a team just like the 1980 team did.

Allowing only amateur players in the Olympics would allow for them to showcase their skills to world,  and to let the world see outstanding amateurs they wouldn’t have been able to see if professional hockey players were allowed to play.

Who would not want to see another team like the 1980 Olympic team? Going back to amateurs in the Olympics would put the Olympics back where they should be. Who wouldn’t want to see another Olympics like that in Lake Placid in 1980 and to be able to say they witnessed the impossible happen?

John Scott is a junior at Cody High School and longtime youth hockey player in the Wyoming region.


2012 NHL Trade Deadline: Hit or Miss?


BY JOHN SCOTT, Couchsideshow.com contributor

The Montreal Canadiens traded defenseman Hal Gill after two and a half seasons with the team. Photo by: Bridget DS / Flickr

Although there was some interesting trades brought about in the NHL over the last week, this year’s trade deadline seemed to disappoint me. A lot of teams swapped players and draft picks in the last hours of the deadline for the betterment of their team, but few trades held star players.

Three out of 30 teams decided not to partake in the trade deadline frenzy, and two of those teams could furthermore enhance their teams by making some trades. The Calgary Flames decided not to keep their roster as is, which is a bold move for a team trying to grab a playoff spot. However, the Carolina Hurricanes chose not to trade anyone for some strange reason even though their dead last in their division, and fourth to last in the league. I don’t know what their GM is thinking at this point. I mean, you’re going 23-26-13 and you’re not trying to make that better? We’ll see if that pays off later on in the future.
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Washington Capitals remain in huge slump


BY JOHN SCOTT, Couchsideshow.com contributor

Washington Capitals winger Alexander Semin has just 16 goals in 56 games this season. Photo by: clydeorama / Flickr

It is tough to find the words to describe how poorly the Washington Capitals are performing. Embarrassing, is one. Terrible, could be another. This year they have 29 wins, 26 losses and 5 overtime losses and are currently in third place in their division, 20th in the league. How can you go from a semi-final dominant team to this?

The Caps should be a powerhouse in the National Hockey League. With players like Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Mike Knuble, Karl Alzner and John Carlson, they should beat teams left and right. But they’re not. In their past 15 games, they’ve won four times. They even lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 5-0 on Feb. 20. This isn’t Squirt hockey;  the Capitals should be putting at least one goal on the board against a team like that.

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Coyotes finally showing signs of life


BY BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com contributor

After enduring two consecutive first-round playoff losses to the Detroit Red Wings, it sure looked like the Phoenix Coyotes were in for a major letdown this year.

They lost their franchise goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov, who signed an outrageous contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. They are still owned by the NHL and are always under the relocation cloud. And, they still did not have a marquee player to really put butts in the seats at Jobing.com Arena.

Left winger Ray Whitney, a 20-year NHL veteran, leads the Phoenix Coyotes with 33 assists and is one of the reasons the team is relevant again. Photo by: Bridget Samuels / Flickr

They attempted to more or less replace some lost pieces through the market, acquiring goaltender Mike Smith and fourth-line grinder Raffi Torres on the first day of free agency. Their ownership troubles still loomed but there are still interested parties, reportedly. And they acquired former Coyote and first-line center Daymond Langkow in a trade.

The 2011-12 season started off alright as the boys surprised everyone by jumping out of the gate quite nicely, but quickly simmered into something more resembling a team going through the motions than a franchise looking to prove that they weren’t just lucky or a fluke the past two years. Entering the recently completed All-Star break, they were mired in a pack of six teams vying for a playoff spot and did not look like they had the drive, or talent, to make it to the finish line.

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Crosby returns to practice after concussion scare


BY JOHN SCOTT, Couchsideshow.com contributor

Sidney Crosby, a former Stanley Cup champion and MVP, returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins with a full practice on Monday. Crosby has been out since Jan. 5 with concussion symptoms and neck injuries.

Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby has missed almost two months of the NHL season with concussion symptoms. Photo by: exploitme / Flickr

Little did Crosby know that the hit he sustained during the 2011 Winter Classic and the hit the game after would affect his career tremendously. During the 2011 Winter Classic, Dave Steckel accidentally collided with Crosby. Then, instead of sitting out the next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Crosby decided to play. Probably not the smartest thing to do, playing with concussion-like symptoms. During the game, he took a hit from behind into the boards from Tampa Bay’s defenseman Victor Hedman.

“I didn’t like them,” Crosby told reporters about the two hits, “you talk about head shots and dealing with them, that’s been something that’s been a pretty big point of interest from general managers and players.”

Taking both of those collisions gave Crosby a severe concussion, causing him to skip the next few games.

Few knew these hits would impact his career a year later. During the Penguins’ game against the Boston Bruins on Dec. 5, 2011, Crosby took another hit, which made him sit out with another concussion.

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