With most vacations, the vacation itself is a thousand times more stressful and frustrating than whatever it was you were trying to get away from. This bye week is no different.
As Rose covered yesterday, the Hawks announced that Corey Crawford had vertigo-like symptoms. Then, later on yesterday, Scotty Bowman went on (BIG VOICE GUY) BOB MCCOWN’S PRIME TIME SPORTS hullabaloo and said, with nary a quiver in his voice, that Crawford was really suffering from post-concussion symptoms (2:02:30 in the clip). Later that day, Lazerus reported that Scotty was “guessing” and not sharing insider information.
This, of course, is Grade A fucking NARRATIVE horseshit (on the organ-I-zaton, not Lazerus).
The Blackhawks have a long and infamous history with deflecting and mismanaging concussions.
Recall that legit 17-seconds legend and meatball superhero Dave Bolland faced schoolyard giggles, and pointing and laughing at how long it took him to recover from his concussion back in 2011, all the while dealing with depression, that common ghoul that tends to walk hand in hand with brain injuries.
Recall that one of the reasons Jeremy Morin got shipped out the first time was because he took too long for everyone’s liking coming back from a concussion in 2012. And before he got shipped out, he fought everything in sight to show Q the MORE that the Hawks’s brass always complained wasn’t there. If there’s a better way to proactively protect a player with a history of brain injuries than having him get punched in the face over and over to prove that he’s willing and able to flex nuts, I’d like to hear it.
Recall that in 2014, after Toews got splattered on the boards by Dennis Seidenberg—subsequently grabbing his head and skating with the grace of a drunk with puke in his shoes—neither Quenneville nor the Hawks’s training staff had the foresight to take him off the ice immediately, instead opting to let him finish off a power play. This came after 2012, when Toews played several games with a concussion before getting shut down.
Recall that Steve Montador’s family still has a lawsuit pending against the league that alleges, among other things, that Montador received four concussions over three months with the Blackhawks.
The vagueness and silence always evolves in the same way, from “upper body injury” to “dealing with some soreness” to “we’ll see.” Then, when it becomes more apparent that someone’s going to be out for an extended time, upper body turns into dizziness or, in Crow’s case, vertigo. That way, when the diagnosis the brain trust refused to admit all along becomes the diagnosis they’re forced to admit, they can throw up their hands and say, “Whoa, we just thought it was something less serious. Honest!” And when you’re named in a lawsuit that claims that your team put Montador in a position to have not just one, but FOUR concussions in just three months, contributing to his CTE and death, feigning ignorance is really all you have left.
And King Dickhead Gary Bettman—who gives mid 90s Hunter Hearst Helmsley a run for his weaselly heel money—plays a role in how teams handle concussions. Let’s not forget that the NHL is still embroiled in a lawsuit that alleges that the league failed to ensure the safety of players’ brains, letting them play through concussions and other head injuries with full knowledge of what that could lead to and without telling them.
As the face of ownership, Bettman ought to have to answer for the defense calling players participating in the lawsuit “mere puppets” on a “cash grab” (which, probably not coincidentally, echoes a common defense we heard surrounding Doughty and Garbage Dick in the past).
He should be able to offer at least some sort of explanation for why the NHL still refuses to acknowledge the link between CTE and head trauma.
If you want to go to John Galtian levels of selfishness, Bettman should have to answer for why the owners he represents are so willing to mishandle their assets to the league’s detriment, letting star players on popular teams that line the league’s coffers suffer long-term injuries, vicariously damaging the league’s bottom line in the process.
Instead, we get radio silence, and status quo reigns.
But back here, given the Blackhawks’s experience with concussions, at what point do Quenneville and Bowman say enough? It may not be their job to diagnose brain injuries, but it IS their job to, in the most heartless terms, protect their assets. Is this middling season of what-ifs and maybes really worth the long-term health of the best goaltender the Hawks have had since Belfour? Apparently, because they brought him back off a concussion awfully fast, yet again.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that any athlete in Chicago sports history ever got Dangerfielded more often than Crow, from fans and franchise alike. He doesn’t deserve any of this, as both a player and a person.
So here we sit, having to wonder what the fuck is going on with the Hawks’s best player amid innuendo from the team and silence from the league. And because we can only guess at what happened, that’s what I’m going to do.
Since Evgeni “My Face Looks How My Name Sounds” Malkin railroaded Crawford in November, Crawford’s been dealing with a concussion. Because the front office and coaching staff are either too stupid to know or too callous to care, they sent Crawford back out too early in an attempt to salvage points they desperately needed for the deep playoff run they envisioned to wash the taste of two quick exits out of their mouths.
When Crawford’s performances betrayed his health against Dallas and New Jersey in December, the Hawks took advantage, using them as cover to justify taking him out for undisclosed reasons. The undisclosed reason, of course, was a concussion that Crawford should not have been playing through.
With vocal skepticism mounting, the organ-I-zation dripped rumors about vertigo, which is close enough to a concussion to feign ignorance, be believable, and take some of the liability off the team’s latest botch. Then, when people expressed outrage at the possibility that the Hawks knowingly trotted Crawford out too soon, Stan Bowman called his father to take the bullet and indirectly admit that Crawford indeed did have a concussion (or post-concussion symptoms), because he knew it would bounce off the venerable and untouchable Scotty much more easily than it would Stan, given his office’s egregiously bad history with concussions.
Finally, Scotty’s walk back was the little injection of controlled confusion the organ-I-zation needed to have everyone following the drama throw up their hands and say “Oh, who knows?!” Lather, rinse, repeat.
The excuses for Crawford’s absence smell an awful lot like organ-I-zational horseshit. But when the guys running the team and the league have shown time and again that they can be gigantic asses about handling head injuries, should we expect anything else?