Crosby playing waiting game

Concussion reports will guide next move

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Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is awaiting full reports from concussion specialists he saw recently in Georgia and Michigan, and, once all the information is in, he and the team will plot a course as training camp approaches.

"It's a process over the last couple weeks," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said Thursday, adding that guidance from local medical staff will be combined with that from the out-of-town concussion doctors.

"They'll give us the advice on what he should do with his training and going into training camp," Shero said.

He declined to name the doctors or facilities in Georgia and Michigan, citing Crosby's privacy. The team has said those doctors expect Crosby to fully recover from the concussion that was diagnosed Jan. 6 and sidelined him the rest of last season. Locally, Crosby's health is overseen by team physician Charles Burke and UPMC concussion specialist Dr. Michael Collins.

Camp starts Sept. 16. Shero envisions Crosby being back in Pittsburgh and around the team, just as he was for the balance of last season after he got hurt. His participation level has not been determined.

Shero said Crosby skated earlier this week and continues to train, although his workouts have been tweaked because he began having headaches when he reached about 90 percent exertion.

For what seemed like the umpteenth time, Shero stressed that Crosby won't be cleared or pushed or expected to have contact in practice or play in games until he is symptom-free and gets an OK from doctors.

But the general manager remains optimistic Crosby will return to full health and play again -- and he's not alone.

"We need to be patient, and he'll come back," Shero said. "That's what everybody has told us. We're confident about that. Sidney's confident about that."

Shero said he understands that there is a swirl of angst, skepticism, curiosity and impatience where Crosby's future is concerned.

"When you have news 24/7, people want answers," Shero said. "We don't have all the answers with this injury.

"I talked to him twice [Wednesday]. I think he's hoping everybody will be patient. I think our fans understand. They want news, but, in the bigger picture, they want him to come back."

Crosby, 24, is a former NHL scoring champion and MVP. He was leading the league with 66 points in 41 games when he got hurt.

He has not granted interviews since April but said in a statement Wednesday night that he appreciated the support he has gotten.

Shero said seeking second and third medical opinions is standard procedure. Former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar did the same before having shoulder surgery in the 2008 preseason, and defenseman Brooks Orpik has done that before, having offseason sports hernia surgery the past two summers.

Shero has monitored Crosby's offseason closely, through phone calls and texts with Crosby, Collins, Burke, agent Pat Brisson and Crosby's personal trainer, Andy O'Brien. He said Crosby has had a relatively typical summer and hasn't second-guessed the events of the week when he got hurt.

Crosby received a blindside hit from David Steckel in the Jan. 1 Winter Classic, then got hit from behind by Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman four nights later. It's not known when the concussion occurred or whether there might have been two, but Crosby said he did not have concussion symptoms until the Tampa Bay game.

After a first-round exit in the playoffs and a European vacation, Crosby returned to his Nova Scotia summer home and began offseason workouts.

"He's a creature of habit, and we wanted him to do all his normal stuff," Shero said. "I've been updated throughout the summer, on a weekly basis, and there are no surprises here for me or for us.

"I don't have a timetable, which is what I have said throughout the course of the summer, but he certainly will be worth the wait."


NOTE -- Shero said he is not heavily shopping the remnants of the free-agent market. "If there was something there, it would be on a tryout basis or a two-way contract, something like that to provide competition," he said.


For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721.


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