CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will not play in the team’s home opener Thursday night against the Washington Capitals as he continues his recovery from a concussion.
Crosby did join his teammates for practice Wednesday after working out vigorously with a trainer and goaltender on an adjacent sheet of ice for more than 30 minutes.
Crosby took one line rush wearing a normal jersey and then donned a yellow noncontact jersey, but stayed for the balance of the team’s workout and was visibly upbeat during the workout.
“I’m always happy when I’m on the ice,” Crosby told reporters after the workout. “I’m always happy. I’ve been through this before I don’t get too caught up in every little step.”
Crosby missed the team’s preseason game against Columbus on Saturday and it was revealed Monday that he had been diagnosed with a concussion after practice on Friday.
Crosby missed significant time during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons recovering from post-concussion symptoms and news of his new diagnosis has created a ripple of concern throughout the hockey world.
Although he’s now skated on consecutive days, Crosby said he knows enough not to try and read too much into it.
“It can go a lot of different ways,” the 29-year-old said. “You’re trying to find that range where you’re stressing your body and testing it but not putting it in a position where you’re going to not feel good. It’s a fine line and just trying to make sure I progress.”
Coach Mike Sullivan was likewise cautiously optimistic about Crosby’s appearance with the main group of players on Wednesday. “He’s obviously feeling well enough that he wants to join the team for practice and get involved in some of the flow drills and that’s what we did,” Sullivan said Wednesday.
“We’ll take it step by step and we’re following the guidance of our medical team and we’ll go from there but he’s certainly making progress and that’s encouraging from our standpoint,” the coach said.
Sullivan did rule Crosby out of the team’s first regular-season game Thursday. Before that game the Penguins will raise their 2016 Stanley Cup banner to the rafters of the recently re-named PPG Paints Arena. The coach confirmed that Crosby will have to go through a full-contact practice before he is cleared to play in a regular-season game.
“Well there’s obviously a protocol that’s mandated that these guys follow,” Sullivan said. “Part of it is you heighten their heart rates to a certain level and as they make progress you add the intensity of their workouts and you see how they respond.”
“That makes the most sense, to get him into contact drills and get him back into the intensity of a game-like environment so that when he does go back into the lineup he’s prepared to succeed,” the coach said.
Crosby is coming off a superlative 2015-16 season that saw him start slowly with just five points in October but finish with some of the best hockey of his career as he was named playoff MVP in helping the Penguins to a second Stanley Cup during his tenure with the team.
Crosby then led Team Canada to an undefeated run at the World Cup of Hockey last month where he led all tournament scorers and was named tournament MVP.