Crosby progressing slowly; return not set
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The symptoms are easing, Sidney Crosby said.
They are not as frequent. Not as severe.
But they are not gone, either, which is why Crosby declines to even speculate on when he will be able to resume playing.
Crosby, who has a concussion, will miss his ninth consecutive game when the Penguins face the New York Islanders at 7:08 p.m. today at Consol Energy Center.
What's more, he not only will sit out the NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh Sunday, but won't travel to North Carolina for any of the related festivities.
"Sidney is making progress in his recovery, but still is not completely symptom-free," general manager Ray Shero said in a prepared statement. "The Penguins organization has decided that he will not attend the NHL All-Star Weekend and instead will continue to relax and recuperate in the hopes of returning to our lineup soon."
- Matchup: New York Islanders at Penguins, 7:08 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center.
- TV/Radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).
- Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Rick DiPietro for Islanders.
- Penguins: Have gone 14-4-1 in past 19 home games. ... C Max Talbot, who does not have a point in 14 games, needs two for 100 in NHL. ... Have won 14 of their 18 games that were decided by three or more goals.
- Islanders: Are 7-14-3 on road, including 3-2 overtime loss Oct. 15 at Consol Energy Center. ... LW Michael Grabner has a point in six consecutive games. ... Have allowed first goal in nine of their past 10 games.
- Hidden stat: Islanders are 0-15-2 when outshooting opponents.
That sounds unduly optimistic, considering that Crosby still doesn't have clearance to begin off-ice workouts. Especially when the initial prognosis offered by the team was that Crosby would miss "about a week" because of what was pointedly described as a "mild" concussion.
That was Jan. 6.
"People say 'mild' concussion, but I don't know if there really is such a thing," Crosby said Monday. "It's a serious thing.
"Obviously, it's frustrating being out, but it's kind of out of my control. All I can do are the things on my part to give me a chance to come back and play. It just takes time."
Precisely how much more time remains a mystery. Consequently, Crosby has not set a target date for any aspect of his return, whether it's starting off-ice workouts, getting back on the ice or playing in games.
"The good thing is that the last four or five days have been pretty good," he said. "But that's not to say that tomorrow I couldn't get more symptoms and things like that.
"It's one of those things that's hard to really gauge, but I've been pretty happy with the way I've progressed the last four or five days. Hopefully, it keeps going that way, and that it will be sooner than later. But it's still pretty hard to tell."
Crosby must be symptom-free and pass a follow-up examination to the baseline neurological test he took a few years ago before Dr. Charles Burke, the Penguins' team physician, will give him permission to resume any physical activity.
"Those two things need to be there, and they need to be right," Crosby said. "So just having one or the other isn't enough."
Crosby said the concussion has not impeded his ability to sleep, and cited headaches when asked about specific symptoms he has experienced.
"There's never really a consistent [trigger]," he said. "It's really hard to kind of find out what causes them. Obviously, that is the tough part and the frustrating part about having a concussion.
"They kind of come and go, but the last few days have been better. They haven't really been as intense. That's a good thing."
Early on, he said, the concussion made any semblance of ordinary life difficult.
"It's brutal," he said. "You sit around and can't really do anything. Especially early on, even watching TV and stuff like that, I could barely do that."
Crosby took a hard blow to the head from Washington's David Steckel Jan. 1, then had his head bounce off the glass when Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman checked him four nights later. Which of those hits caused his concussion, which was diagnosed Jan. 6, apparently is not known.
While Crosby's commitment to conditioning borders on legendary, it has been nearly three weeks since he engaged in any significant activity. And, to his obvious dismay, it might be a while longer before he does it again.
"It's really difficult," Crosby said. "It doesn't get any easier. With each day that goes by, you realize that it gets tougher and tougher to work your way back [into game shape].
"But I think that at the end of the day, you remind yourself that you have to make sure everything is clear, and that when you do come back, you'll be ready to go hard and do the things it takes to get back."
First Published January 25, 2011 12:00 am