RALEIGH, N.C. – Sidney Crosby is hardly the only NHL player felled by a concussion this season. In fact, he has lots of unwanted company.

The NHL board of governors received a detailed preliminary report Saturday during All-Star weekend that shows the number of concussions is trending up. What might be surprising is that the culprit appears to be accidental hits and not illegal blows to the head.

“We’ve seen players suffer concussions this season when they’ve stumbled into the boards or other players without any contact at all,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We’ve seen players suffer concussions when struck by pucks in the head, we’ve seen players concussed when they collide with teammates, and when they were hit legally and without head contact after which their heads have struck either the ice or the boards or the glass. The biggest increase in instances of concussions this season and the biggest increase in man-games lost is from these types of so-called accidental or inadvertent contact.”

There are already signs that a rule banning lateral, blindside hits to the head — in its first full season — is working. The debate is about whether it goes far enough. Some are pushing for all contact to the head, intended or accidental, to be ruled illegal.

Others worry that hitting, a major and popular part of hockey, will be reduced to unwanted levels.

“The objective was to review what we have done and what we are doing to assess a variety of factors and determine how best to continue our ongoing effort to manage, reduce and whenever possible to find ways to prevent instances in which concussions occur,” Bettman said.

The next step will come in March when the league’s 30 GMs meet again. They will review all information and see if more needs to be done in an attempt to reduce concussions by proposing new rules. The GMs came up with the current head-shot ban — Rule 48 — that went into effect shortly before last year’s playoffs.

Bettman declined to reveal any numbers regarding the number of concussions sustained this season or what percentage they have risen to.

He said the report showed since the blindside rule went into effect, there has been a decrease in concussions and man-games lost resulting from those hits.

Bettman added there have been fewer concussions caused by hits to the head that are deemed to be legal.

“We want to make sure we do what we can to eliminate concussions from the sport,” said Peter Karmanos Jr., the owner of the Hurricanes. “The general managers will decide in the March meeting how much more teeth to put into Rule 48.”

SKILLS COMPETITION: Alex Ovechkin took care of the flash and Zdeno Chara brought the blast.

Ovechkin won his third straight breakaway challenge, Chara broke his own 2-year-old record for the hardest shot and players from the All-Star team Staal won five of six events Saturday night in the NHL’s SuperSkills competition.

In this prelude to an All-Star game like none other, Eric Staal’s team led from the start in a 33-22 win over Nicklas Lidstrom’s.

“I thought we did pretty good” choosing the team, Staal said. “Obviously, we’re going to see (today) during the game, but tonight, it worked out with some good wins in some of the events.”

The changes in the All-Star roster format meant a fresh look for the skills competition, too. The Carolina captain and Lidstrom of Detroit chose up the sides for teams that carry their names one night earlier during a televised 18-round draft.

Chara set the hardest-shot record with a 105.9-mph slap shot in the final of that competition.

In addition to that blast and Ovechkin’s breakaway win, Team Staal also produced winners in the competitions for fastest skater (the Islanders’ Michael Grabner), accuracy (Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin) and the shootout (Anaheim’s Corey Perry).

Team Lidstrom’s only victory came in the skills challenge relay.