Penguins Notebook: Crosby returns early to Pittsburgh for medical appointment
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LOS ANGELES -- Penguins center and captain Sidney Crosby left the club's West Coast trip early, returning Saturday to Pittsburgh so he could go to a medical appointment.
The club stressed that Crosby's appointment did not represent a major development -- such as a setback or a specific step forward -- in his recovery from a concussion that has kept him out of games since January.
"There's no timetable. There's no date. There's no point in the future worth talking about yet," coach Dan Bylsma said. "Just a scheduled appointment."
Crosby's appointment originally was scheduled for Monday. The team is practicing that day and then is planning a special outing later that day and Tuesday at a regional resort. Crosby is expected to participate in practice Monday and the team function.
"We have a team-building event next week," Bylsma said. "He didn't want to miss that, so he was able to see the doctor [earlier]."
The team played the Kings on Saturday night at Staples Center after falling to the Sharks, 4-3, in a shootout Thursday in San Jose.
Crosby accompanied the team Wednesday to San Jose, where he participated in two practices and a game-day skate. He was one of the last players off the ice Friday at HP Pavilion.
As late as Thursday, Crosby was expected to be in Los Angeles -- local reporters had arranged through Penguins staff to speak to him after the morning skate -- but his plans changed and he did not join his teammates on the ice because he was on his way home.
The Penguins don't play again until Friday, when Dallas visits Consol Energy Center. They have a scheduled day off today after what is expected to be a morning arrival home, with three practices and the team function scheduled before the game against the Stars.
Crosby has been practicing regularly with no reported concussion symptoms. He got medical clearance to practice in September and clearance for full contact in October.
Although he has not gotten the opportunity to hit or be hit much in practice, there has been widespread speculation that he will return to the lineup against Dallas. No one connected to Crosby or the Penguins has acknowledged that as a target date.
Crosby's recovery has been closely watched and chronicled in the hockey world. He previously played Jan. 5 and was leading the NHL with 66 points in 41 games when he got hurt.
What set up as a possible breakthrough season for rookie defenseman Robert Bortuzzo got delayed when he missed all of training camp plus most of October because of a sprained knee he got in a preseason rookie tournament.
"It was frustrating to have something like that happen early in the year," Bortuzzo said. "Your summer training feels like it was a bit of a waste, but I worked hard getting back and I'm fortunate to be here right now."
Friday afternoon, Bortuzzo thought he was going to play that night in his third game for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, but in the afternoon he got summoned to join the Penguins because defenseman Paul Martin was questionable against the Kings.
"He did not get to participate in training camp, missed that opportunity, but coming back, his two games were very good," Bylsma said. "He was the guy to get called up with the way he's played, with what we think he can do and be for our defense."
Bortuzzo, 22, is a third-year pro who was a fourth-round pick by the Penguins in the 2007 draft. He is a right-handed shot with good size at 6 feet 3, 196 pounds.
Two games isn't a lot as a springboard to an NHL recall, but Bortuzzo thought he was ready.
"I felt good and my conditioning was there," he said.
Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi, who was part of the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup team, is among those rooting for Crosby to return.
"From the face of the league standpoint, you want to have your best player in the game," Scuderi told the Los Angeles Times. "I can't speak for the general fan, but if I was a general fan of something else I'm sure I would want to see the best league has to offer, and that is, in my opinion, Sidney Crosby.
"It'd be great for us to get him back in the game, sooner rather than later. He's young and it's a long road back. I think they're handling it the right way."
First Published November 6, 2011 1:11 am