With seconds remaining in the second period of the 2011 Winter Classic, Crosby is blindsided by a forceful hit from another player to the back of the head. He isn't even aware of the severity of the hit, or how it actually happened, until after the game. He walks to the locker room, noticeably shaken, but continues play in the final period.
Pittsburgh Penguins officially announce that Crosby is out indefinitely, launching a media waiting game of speculation. The team's medical doctor has determined that the concussion is affecting Crosby's vestibular system, the part of the brain that allows an individual to stand upright and maintain balance, signaling a lengthy recovery.
Crosby undertakes a strength and conditioning training regimen, and makes several attempts to skate during non-contact practices in early spring and again in late summer which finds him unable to shake continued post-concussion symptoms plaguing him including headaches, dizziness, fatigue, fogginess and sensitivity to light.
His medical prognosis and treatment plan is kept tightly under wraps. Rumors of his retirement circulate.
Crosby flies to Life University in Atlanta for evaluation. The focal point of his visit regimen is the GyroStim for sensorimotor exercise three to four times each day over the course of four days.
Crosby makes his first public appearance since April at a press conference, saying he is feeling great since his experience at Life University. He claims his symptoms are gone and he will return to the game. The two concussion specialists overseeing his case say he is expected to make a full recovery, with no lingering injury-related issues or effect on his quality of life.
Doctors, team management, and Crosby all agree that he will not return to NHL play until he is conditioned to perform consistently at 100%.
Crosby is “upgraded” to the injured reserve list.
Crosby announces he will make his season debut the next day. It would be his first game in 10 months.
Crosby had an amazing performance, scoring twice and adding two assists in his comeback game to lead the Penguins to a 5-0 win against the Islanders.
Less than one year after using the GyroStim, which was instrumental in his remarkable comeback, Crosby signs a 12-year, $104.4 million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.