Monday, February 6, 2012

Timelines show connections between Morneau and Crosby injuries

For Justin Morneau and Sidney Crosby, the struggle with concussion-related symptoms has plagued each of their careers in recent seasons. Both of these players grew up in Canada and have fought to reach the highest level in their particular sport. Crosby would work his way into the record books for numerous NHL accolades on his way to being one of the best players in the league. Morneau became a power-hitting star and one of the best sluggers in the American League.

The accolades for Crosby have piled up as he became the youngest player in NHL history to get 100 points in a season and to win a scoring title. When the Penguins named him captain in 2007, he was the youngest to ever don the "C" on his sweater. Two years later the Penguins would win the Stanley Cup and Crosby would be the youngest captain ever to lead his team to the championship.

In 2004 the Twins made a conscious effort to turn over the starting first baseman job to a young Morneau by trading away fan-favorite Doug Mientkiewicz. The decision turned out to be a good one for the Twins as Morneau would develop into a force in the middle of the team's line-up. He would have a breakout season in 2006 on the way to the American League Most Valuable Player Award. A couple of seasons later, he would finish second in the MVP voting after another great season in the field and at the plate.

Crosby's concussion in timeline form (from Canada.com):
Jan. 1: Toward the end of the second period of the Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Washington Capitals forward David Steckel hits Crosby with a blindside hit.
Jan. 5: Crosby is driven into the end-boards by Tampa Bay Lightning defense-man Victor Hedman.
Jan. 12: With Crosby still suffering from concussion symptoms, the Penguins announce he's out indefinitely.
March 14: Crosby skates for the first time since being sidelined.
April 29: Crosby tells reporters that he's had a setback in his recuperation, but expects to be ready for the start of the 2011-12 season.
June 2: Crosby receives go-ahead from doctors for off-ice workouts.
July 14: Crosby returns to on-ice workouts.
Aug. 15: Penguins GM Ray Shero announces that Crosby is still suffering from post-concussion symptoms and it's not known whether he'll be ready for training camp.
Oct. 13: Crosby is cleared to take part in contact drills with teammates, but Penguins say they are still taking a cautious approach with him.
Nov. 20: After weeks of near-daily updates on Crosby's status, the Penguins announce that Crosby will be in the lineup Nov. 21
Dec. 8: Following a collision with a teammate, Crosby forced to sit out multiple games which developed into concussion-like symptoms.
Jan. 28, 2012: The Penguins find out Crosby suffered a neck injury but the injury had already healed itself.

Morneau's concussion in timeline form:
July 7, 2010: Morneau suffers a concussion after getting a knee to the head at second base while trying to break-up a double play.
Oct 4: Twins announce the end to Morneau's season. A week earlier Morneau told reporters he was symptom-free and he could be ready for the ALCS if the Twins made it out of the first round.
March 8, 2011: Morneau appears in a baseball game for the first time since the concussion. It is a spring training game with the "B" squad but managed to hit a three-run double in his second at-bat.
April 1: The Opening Day line-up in Toronto features Morneau at first base for the first time in a regular season game since July of 2010.
April 17: Morneau misses five days with flu like symptoms
June 14: A sore wrist sends Morneau to the disabled list where he had to have surgery
June 24: The Twins schedule Morneau to have neck surgery to remove a fragment of a herniated disk from his neck.
July 14: Doctors clear Morneau to resume performing non-baseball activities.
July 26: Issues with migraine headaches plague Morneau for multiple days.
July 29: Morneau hit in the cage for the first time since undergoing neck surgery.
Aug. 4: A trip to Rochester for a rehab stint is next in line for Morneau.
Aug. 13: Morneau activated from the DL even though he still has not feeling in his left index finger, the result of a nerve problem originating in his neck
Aug. 21: Morneau fouls a ball off of his foot and misses multiple games.
Aug. 29: A sore left shoulder from diving for a foul ball keeps Morneau out of the line-up but this would develop into "mild concussion symptoms."
Sep. 13: The team reports Morneau has yet to go through multiple days without experiencing some concussion-related symptoms.
Sep. 18: The Twins shut down Morneau for the second season in a row with concussion related issues.
Sep. 20: Morneau had successful surgery to remove a cyst from his left knee and a bone spur from his right foot.
Sep. 20: Another surgery is scheduled for Morneau and this time it is the same wrist he had issues with back in June.
Dec. 31: In an interview with MLB Network, Morneau conceded that he is still recovering from post-concussion syndrome.
Jan. 22, 2012: Morneau tells a reporter that he hasn't had any concussion symptoms since December.

It is interesting to search through these timelinesMorneau and Crosby. After suffering their concussion, both players thought they could work their way back in time for their respective team's playoff run. In each case the player wasn't able to be ready and had to be shut down for the season. This would set up each player for a race to get back on the field for the start of the next playing season.

Morneau would successfully make it back into the line-up for Opening Day but for Crosby the wait would be a little longer. Eventually they each made it back onto the field before suffering from another concussion related incident. Morneau suffered his while diving for a ball in foul territory and Crosby's symptoms were brought on after being run in to by a teammate.

At different points in their recovery process, both players have been diagnosed with other injuries that could have needed some attention. Morneau was forced to go through a wide-variety of surgeries on various body parts including an operation on his neck to remove a herniated disk. Crosby has only recently found out that he had a broken neck but the injury had already healed itself. For Morneau this neck injury has already caused some nerve issues. Doctors also think that Crosby could have some neurological damage from his soft tissue injury in his neck.

Overall, it is a disappointment not to see these two great players on the field in the prime of their careers. Morneau and Crosby were near the top of their game when each were hit with this debilitating diagnosis. Head injuries are a scary situation and fans of the Twins are well aware of how hard Morneau has worked to get himself back on the field.

Now only time will tell if both of these players can get back to be successful players in their individual sports.

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