Nick Kypreos on Sidney Crosby, Concussions & Future Contracts

Yes, another Sidney Crosby piece. Sorry.

Nick Kypreos, who was forced to retire from hockey due to a concussion, has posted an opinion piece on Sidney Crosby's future. It covers many points, including what could be coming up in contract talks between Crosby and the Penguins. In the piece he stresses that Sidney Crosby's season should be over.

Kypreos' article is going to get a lot of attention and it will likely be attacked by all sides, but he makes several good points.

The piece focuses on the upcoming contract talks between Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The two sides can begin negotiating a new contract on July 1, 2012. Recently Ray Shero said that he wants Crosby to be a "Penguin for life" and we believe that's true. However, Kypreos believes that due to Crosby's injury history, his new contract may not "come with an insurance policy that protects the Penguins from a career-ending concussion."

That means the Penguins would be on the hook for paying Crosby's entire salary for the duration of whatever contract they sign him to regardless of whether or not he plays hockey. That's a big deal. The Penguins can start to negotiate with Jordan Staal on the same day as Crosby. Eventual extensions for Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury and others must be taken into account as well. That means the Pens will need to spend their money wisely for the foreseeable future. 

Obviously the Pens would love to sign Crosby to a long-term deal that would keep him in Pittsburgh for as long as possible. From the other side of things, it's obvious that Sidney Crosby will want to make a lot of money. Not only is he the best player in hockey when healthy, he also needs to take the fact that his career may be shorter than he originally predicted into account. This makes it a tough situation for both sides.

Kypreos says:

How can Shero not be nervous about what the franchise might be willing to pay Crosby on a new deal? Even if the Penguins still want to make him a “Penguin for life” with a new long-term deal (possibly 10 years and $100-million), it won’t come with an insurance policy that protects the Penguins from a career-ending concussion. The franchise will be on the hook to pay him if he decides to retire. Now I’m no Warren Buffet, but that’s one heck of a financial gamble to take on anyone, even if they did just build a new state of the art arena off the man’s back.

The Penguins can offer Crosby a short-term deal, but will he and his agent, Pat Brisson, really be interested in that considering everything Crosby has done financially for the organization in such a short period of time? Brisson will want to hit a home run on this next deal. The problem is Crosby’s latest setback changes the financial dynamics. I’m not here to suggest the Penguins would ever turn its back on Crosby and not do him right. Mario Lemieux and the organization are far too classy of an organization, and Crosby being looked after past retirement is a given. But make one thing clear: there is a big difference between a debt of gratitude and signing a long-term contract as the undisputed No. 1 player in the world. And with Crosby still just 24 years old, it’s a difference that far exceeds $100 million dollars.

Obviously a lot can change in between now and July 1, so everything is just speculation right now, but Kypreos certainly brings up some interesting points. He also suggests that "Crosby must ask himself if it’s worth returning before the season is over, and risking a third concussion in a little more than a year."

He goes on to say that "for those reasons, he can’t possibly come back before this season ends. It’s far too risky – both for his health and in getting the kind of deal he deserves."

The Kypreos piece is a good, yet somewhat controversial read. He obviously doesn't know exactly what Sidney Crosby or Ray Shero is thinking and he doesn't know how Crosby's future will play out. Just because Kypreos retired due to a concussion, that doesn't mean he knows anything about Crosby's health. As we all know by now, all concussions are different. On a somewhat related note, Pensnation_Ken on Twitter found this piece from 2007 that briefly mentions Crosby suffering a concussion at age 12.

The points Kypreos brings up add yet another layer to the Sidney Crosby situation. This is one storyline that likely won't be concluded at any point in the near future.

Okay… we'll stop talking about this for a while and focus on players who are actually playing… maybe.