Sidney Crosby 's situation could be discouraging for anyone. He's back to sitting out practices and games, back to dealing with concussion symptoms.
According to others with the Penguins, though, their captain and best player is keeping his spirits up.
"Sid knows how to handle a lot," winger Tyler Kennedy said. "He's handling it great. I don't know too many guys who could handle it the way he's doing it. He's showing leadership that way, too.
"Most guys would break. But he's staying positive, which is good to see."
Coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby, who is permitted to do light exercising, is around the club, sitting in on meetings, talking to his teammates.
"He's got a good demeanor being around the guys," Bylsma said.
Crosby missed nearly 11 months because of a concussion, returned for eight games and sat out a ninth game in a row Thursday night when the Philadelphia Flyers visited Consol Energy Center.
He must wait for symptoms to subside and is out indefinitely.
"He's still himself," forward Craig Adams said of Crosby. "He's the way he always is. He's pretty quiet, but he seems to be in good spirits.
"He's in here talking to the guys at practices and after games. He's still our captain, for sure."
The game Thursday marked the return of forward Max Talbot , who signed as a free agent with the Flyers after becoming a fan favorite and Stanley Cup hero with the Penguins, his original team.
Off the ice, Talbot left a void because of his big personality.
"Obviously, he was very flamboyant," center Jordan Staal said. "He was fun to be around. But there are still lots of guys in this room that can make the locker room like that."
Two prime suspects are forwards Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis .
"Anytime you lose a personality that is like Max, other people have to fill the void," Cooke said. "A lot of us are friends with him. We went through some good times with him. Those are memories you'll never forget.
"But, unfortunately, changing teams is part of the business and it just so happens that he went to one of the teams that's most hated by this locker room. That doesn't mean that Max is most hated; it's just that that's who he plays for."
Cooke noted that Talbot had his teammates' ears when something needed to be said in the dressing room, and he took a good-hearted shot at Talbot and Dupuis in that role.
"As a whole everybody gets a chance to have a little more air time," Cooke said. "That's a good thing.
"Except for Pascal, who has stood up even more. He was always around, but now it's just twofold."
Forwards Evgeni Malkin , Steve Sullivan and Arron Asham sat out the optional morning skate. ... Defenseman Deryk Engelland served the third and final game of his NHL suspension for a hit on Chicago's Marcus Kruger . He is eligible to return when the Penguins play Saturday at New Jersey.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org , 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.