Penguins' Kennedy practices without contact

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SAN JOSE, Calif. --Winger Tyler Kennedy found an empathetic and knowledgeable teammate for discussions about the concussion that will force him to miss his eighth game in a row Thursday night when the Penguins play the San Jose Sharks.

Team captain Sidney Crosby has been out since Jan. 5 because of a concussion, although he seems to be getting close to returning.

"Sid's like a doctor when it comes to concussions," Kennedy said Wednesday. "I've talked to him and opened up to him. He's got some great insight."

Kennedy returned to practice for the first time as the Penguins skated at HP Pavilion after traveling from Pittsburgh. He has not been cleared for contact.

"For a good five or seven days, I've been feeling good," he said. "We'll take it day to day and go from there."

Coach Dan Bylsma said Kennedy passed his latest neurocognitive imPACT test and progressed this week from riding a stationary bike Monday to skating on his own Tuesday to practicing Wednesday.

Kennedy isn't sure when he got the concussion or if it was from one specific incident, although he seemed to take the brunt of it when he hit hulking Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers in the most recent game he played Oct. 15.

"It was a series of things," Kennedy said. "I'm not really sure what happened. I just started getting symptoms."

As for those symptoms, he said: "A little bit of headaches here and there and I wasn't feeling the greatest. That's all gone. Hopefully, I can take [another] step forward in the next couple of days."

Staal, Letang also practice

Penguins center Jordan Staal and defenseman Kris Letang also returned to practice. It will be determined Thursday whether they can play against San Jose, said Bylsma, who seemed optimistic.

"For the most part, it felt pretty good," said Staal, who missed one game because of an unspecified left leg injury. I'm feeling better. It's just going to be a day-to-day thing, see how everything goes, see how everything feels [today]."

Letang hasn't missed any games but had not practiced all week because of an unspecified injury.

"I went through the whole practice and I felt pretty good," he said.

Good practice for Crosby

Crosby said he didn't get any solid contact in practice, but he wasn't disappointed.

"It was a good practice," Crosby said. "I can't get hit every day."

Told that Sharks players were disappointed he won't play, Crosby cracked, "I don't blame them after the way I've played the last couple times here."

In his past two games in San Jose, he has no goals, one assist, three shots, two minor penalties and a plus-minus rating of minus-2.

On a more serious note, Crosby said he appreciated the fact that players around the league are pulling for him to get back in the lineup.

"I've heard some guys have said that," Crosby said. "That means a lot."

Tip-ins

Backup goalie Brent Johnson was ill and skipped practice. Video coordinator Jim Britt filled in. ... Defenseman Boris Valabik cleared waivers and was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.



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