- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 28, 2012

OTTAWA — The news didn’t sound good: Sidney Crosby and an “abnormality” in his vertebrae. For the Pittsburgh Penguins’ center and face of the NHL who has been grappling with a concussion, it seemed like yet another setback that could threaten his season or his career.

But late Saturday night, Crosby’s agent, Pat Brisson, said the concussed star is not in any immediate danger and still hopes to play this season.

“His spine is fine. The spine is fine. He’s safe, and that’s great news,” Brisson said. “The good news is Sidney’s safe, doing well. The best news is he’s safe and not in danger.”

Brisson told CBC earlier in the evening that Crosby had cracks in his C1 and C2 vertebrae. The Penguins released a statement soon after saying that Dr. Robert S. Bray, a neurological spine specialist based in Los Angeles, found the neck injury and reported it to be “fully healed.”

“The most important goal all along has been Sidney’s return to full health, and we are encouraged that progress continues to be made,” the statement said.

Sportsnet in Canada broke the original story about the abnormality, setting into motion a chain of events that made Crosby the top story even though he’s nowhere near Ottawa and NHL All-Star Weekend.

Brisson held court with reporters in the bowels of Scotiabank Place after the SuperSkills competition and said Crosby is heading “in the right direction.” More answers could be coming very soon.

“He was diagnosed with a neck injury. At that point he did an MRI and a cat scan,” Brisson said. “And early next week, we’re going to evaluate what was found perhaps.”

Crosby has been out since Dec. 5 with yet another instance of post-concussion syndrome. He missed 10 ½ months the first time but returned to play 10 games this season. He had two goals and 10 assists in that time.

Brisson said Crosby saw deep tissue specialist Dr. Alex Guerrero in Utah as well, adding to the list of specialists. But despite all this, he’s in good spirits.

“He was good. He was good all week,” Brisson said. “It’s good for him to get some therapy. He continues workouts and all that.”

It’s impossible to say when Crosby will be able to play again, though there have been reports that he is done for the year. Brisson doesn’t know when his client will return but did not rule out this season.

“That’s his goal. His goal is to play once he’s safe and sound and feels good and he has no symptoms,” he said. “The sooner the better. I can’t put any timeline on it. I don’t know; I really don’t.”