Crosby a 'warrior,' says Nathan MacKinnon as Pittsburgh star faces concussion

Crosby a 'warrior,' says Nathan MacKinnon as Pittsburgh star faces concussion

Nathan MacKinnon is calling fellow Cole Harbour NHLer Sidney Crosby a "warrior" after the Pittsburgh Penguins captain suffered the fourth concussion of his NHL career.

MacKinnon, a centre with the Colorado Avalanche, grew up watching Crosby play. He was devastated when he heard about the hockey star's latest injury. 

"That's horrible. It's really sad because that guy has been through wars and people don't know how much of a warrior he really is," said MacKinnon.

"That's very unfortunate and it makes me upset. I don't like hearing that stuff. I'm really feeling for him."

Crosby was cross-checked to the head Monday by Washington Capitals defenceman Matt Niskanen during Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal in Pittsburgh. 

The Penguins forward had already been knocked off balance by a high stick to his upper body from Alex Ovechkin. 

Crosby's concussion will keep him from playing in Wednesday night's Game 4. Pittsburgh leads the series 2-1,

'A heartbreaker'

It's not clear if Crosby will be able to return for the remainder of the playoffs. CBC News reached out to the NHL for comment but received no response. 

One Halifax hockey fan called Crosby's injury "a heartbreaker."

"It's obviously a huge disappointment with him being a local boy," said Sam Armstrong, adding that he's worried about the number of head injuries Crosby, 29, has sustained.

"It's something that's becoming more and more of a concern in the NHL and something I would like them to look into it to make sure they're keeping the players safe."

Concussion concerns

Dr. Charles Tator, project director of the anadian Concussion Centre for the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital said concussion history is important.

He said people are more likely to recover after one concussion than after 10 concussions. 

Doctors say there is no universal diagnosis or treatment for concussions — each case is different and some times there are long-term side effects. 

Rules need to change

John Moore is director of Sports and Moore, a Halifax-based website dedicated to hockey news. He said NHL hockey needs to change.  

"I don't feel that Gary Bettman with the National Hockey League protects the players as much as they can," said Moore, a veteran play-by-play caller for the Halifax Mooseheads. 

Players are getting bigger and stronger while the ice surface remains the same size — leading to more injuries and concussions, according to Moore. He said international ice surfaces are bigger and generally result in fewer injuries. 

"I think they have to perhaps make some rule changes to make it a safer environment for the players," said Moore.