Penguins Will Pay Crosby If Lingering Head Injuries Force Early Him Into Retirement
The Penguins "cannot insure themselves against a concussion-related early retirement" by C Sidney Crosby, according to NHL sources cited by Rob Rossi of the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW. Despite missing all but 63 games the past two seasons because of concussion symptoms, Crosby and the Penguins Thursday "agreed to a 12-year contract worth $104.4 million -- all of it guaranteed." Insurance companies offer teams protection "against career-ending injuries, but Crosby’s concussion history is considered a pre-existing condition." Sources said that if Crosby "cannot finish his contract because of a concussion-related injury, he will still be paid in full, but the Penguins would not receive assistance from an insurance policy on the deal." However, Portland, Ore.-based Sports Management World Wide President Lynn Lashbrook said that the deal "will not cripple the franchise like the ailing health of current majority co-owner Mario Lemieux" did in the '90s. Lashbrook said, "It’s so different now for the Penguins. They’ve got a sold-out new arena, a better TV deal, big sponsorship and deeper-pocketed ownership. The Penguins can withstand this even if Crosby can’t play out the majority of this contract." She added that the Crosby contract "could contain wording for him to serve as a club ambassador, similar" to what Baseball HOFer George Brett does for the Royals. The Penguins "never have been in a position to take on a contract like the Crosby deal." But nowadays their season-ticket waiting list "sits at 8,000, and their local TV ratings were tops among NHL and NBA teams last season." NHL rules require that clubs "insure the top six contracts in terms of average annual value." A contract "cannot be insured for more than seven years." However, a contract can "always be insured for seven years, so the remainder of a long-term contract such as the one Crosby signed will always be insured" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 6/30).