Penguins utilize new injury policy

| Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- Sidney Crosby has an injury. That much is known.

Whether it's a rib injury, as some broadcast reports suggest, or another type of ailment, isn't as clear cut. The Penguins aren't commenting on Crosby other than to say their franchise player is "day to day" heading into their game tonight against the St. Louis Blues. No more information on the type or extent of Crosby's injury will be released.

The Penguins' silence on the matter isn't unusual. Many teams aren't discussing injuries thanks to an NHL injury disclosure policy that has been put into place this season.

Under the new policy, teams only are required to "disclose that a player is expected to miss a game due to injury, or will not return to a game following an injury."

Unlike the National Football League and Major League Baseball, the NHL is no longer required to go into detail about a player's injury. The change in policy comes after the general managers unanimously voted in June to pass the injury disclosure policy.

"The NHLPA supports the new injury disclosure policy as it helps protect the health and safety of our membership." NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said.

According to TSN, the Detroit Red Wings and general manager Ken Holland spearheaded the policy because of two reasons. One, two Red Wings players told Holland during last year's Stanley Cup playoffs that they didn't want their injuries disclosed. Two, Holland saw evidence in the Western Conference final and Stanley Cup final that opposing players were targeting forward Johan Franzen's head because of reports that he had concussion-like symptoms.

The Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals also are known to be adhering strictly to the NHL policy. When disclosing injuries, the New York Islanders are listing only that they involve the "upper" or "lower" body.

An NHL spokesman said the league would have no comment on the policy or why it was adopted. The Penguins had no media availability yesterday after canceling practice in St. Louis following their 4-1 loss to Phoenix on Thursday night. Crosby was injured with less than five minutes remaining in the second period of the game.

"I had some discomfort," said Crosby, who didn't specify his injury. "I decided that in the third period it didn't seem like I could do much."

While the NHL requires that teams provide an update on a player's status regarding the upcoming game, the NFL's injury reports are much more detailed.

The NFL requires teams to list practice participation reports from Wednesday through Friday and provides a game status - out, doubtful, questionable, or probable - Friday. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the practice participation - full participation, limited participation, or no participation - and the injured body part must be reported. No other details of the injury are required to be disclosed publicly.

"The issuing of injury updates has been a long-standing policy in the NFL for decades, and we have no intention of changing it," NFL director of football information Vince Casey said.

Major League Baseball decided in its 2006 collective bargaining agreement with the players' association that one baseball operations representative -- general manager, field manager or public relations official -- is authorized to release injury information. This was adopted to take the onus off trainers and strength coaches.

According to the CBA, baseball clubs can disclose information about "the nature of a player's employment-related injury, the prognosis and anticipated length of recovery from the injury and treatment and surgical procedures undertaken or anticipated in regard to the injury."

Although the NHL's injury reports are vague, they must be accurate. Another clause of the injury disclosure policy says, "Clubs are prohibited from providing untruthful information about the nature of a player injury or otherwise misrepresenting a player's condition."

The NHL has a long-standing tradition of fudging injuries, particularly in the playoffs. Two years ago, Crosby played the entire first round of the playoffs with a broken bone in his foot. The injury was never disclosed.

Additional Information:

New policy

A look at the NHL's injury disclosure policy that was adopted by league general managers in June and enforced this season:

'Clubs no longer are required to disclose the specific nature of player injuries. Clubs are, however, required to disclose that a player is expected to miss a game due to injury, or will not return to a game following an injury. Clubs are prohibited from providing untruthful information about the nature of a player injury or otherwise misrepresenting a player's condition.'

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