The wave of concussions sweeping the NHL has forced fantasy owners into the role of a diagnostician.
In discussing 37-year-old Chris Pronger's future a few days ago when asked if his captain and star defenceman's concussion was career-ending, Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren neatly summed up the maddeningly frustrating scenarios facing NHL teams, players, doctors and fantasy owners alike:
"One of our doctors said to me that concussions are like fingerprints. None of them are the same."
Pronger has been ruled out for the rest of the regular season and playoffs. He may or may not ever be able to play again, but even his wife said this past week that at this point they're just praying he can have a few good days strung together in a row.
In the case of Pronger or someone like Boston Bruins centre Marc Savard, who has been forced to sit out this entire season and will seemingly never lace them up competitively again, it's almost not about playing hockey… it's about quality of life. Savard said Saturday that it’s tough to see a bright future and he’s still dealing with headaches and memory loss. Of small consolation, one supposes, is that the depression with which he had been dealing is not currently an issue.
Pittsburgh Penguins pivot Sidney Crosby, the face of the league in many respects, has been the highest-profile concussion case. He returned from a lengthy absence on November 21, but played only eight games before being forced out of the lineup again with no return date in sight.
Claude Giroux, the budding superstar for the Philadelphia Flyers who more fans league-wide got to know through the masterpiece that was HBO's 24/7, only sat out four affairs after being accidentally knocked in the head by teammate Wayne Simmonds with Giroux down on the ice.
Carolina Hurricanes sophomore forward Jeff Skinner missed 16 games after getting caught by Andy Sutton in the trolley tracks. A completely legal hit from a player with a history of highly-questionable hits, but still with damaging results. When Skinner was rocked by Brooks Orpik in the youngster's second game back, fans held their collective breath. Despite being slow to get up, he was ap