Former President Bill Clinton ducked and dodged reporters and lawyers by debating the definition of the word “is.” Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan hasn’t yet reached Slick Willy territory, but the Penguins are obviously trying to avoid updating the Sidney Crosby situation.
Monday after practice, Sullivan skirted a question about Crosby’s prognosis. “How do you define long term?” Sullivan asked without answering his own question, which was in response to a question.
In fairness, the team typically offers some time frame. For Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist, they were ruled out “longer-term.”
Three days after Crosby tangled awkwardly along the wall and then took a shot off his skate, the only thing we know is that we know nothing. There have been no hints or allegations. Not even the usual vague lower body, upper body injury designation.
Penguins top defenseman Kris Letang went from “under further evaluation” to out week to week.
Three days later, Crosby is somewhere between being further evaluated and career-ending injury.
It’s quite possible the Penguins don’t yet know the severity or are seeking second opinions. It’s also assuredly true the Penguins don’t want to endanger Crosby by revealing too much.
When asked if Crosby would be available later in the week against the New Jersey Devils, Sullivan exercised his finest dodge, duck, dip, and dive when he replied, “We’re just focused on tonight.”
Opponents would like nothing more than to take an extra whack at a sore ankle or gimpy groin. Hockey has a long-standing tradition of hiding, mischaracterizing or being vague about injuries.
Gambling hasn’t yet forced hockey to adopt the painstaking detail of the NFL in which every bruise is documented.
Hockey is still about grinning and bearing it. For the players and apparently the public, too.
For now, it’s anyone’s guess, and Sullivan won’t be offering any help.