PITTSBURGH -- If Sidney Crosby didn't realize how much he was missed by Penguins' fans, he does now.
Crosby, whose popularity in Pittsburgh might be unrivaled by any other athlete, took the ice to a standing ovation during his first training camp practice Saturday. While players such as Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury also drew loud cheers when they first stepped onto the ice, the greeting given to Crosby was movie-star like. There were additional cheers when he merely skated up and down the ice and even more when he began passing the puck during routine drills.
Crosby, who hasn't played since Jan. 6 because of a concussion, stood out from the rest of his teammates for reasons other than his still-evident hockey skills. He is wearing a white helmet, rather than a black one like the rest of his teammates, to signify that he cannot be involved in contact. Crosby, whose recovery from the concussion remains ongoing, has been cleared to practice but still cannot take part in any scrimmaging or contact drills. He also wore the white helmet during an informal team workout Friday.
Crosby expects camp to be more intense and physically demanding than the practices were when he resumed working out with his teammates on March 31. He stopped practicing during the Penguins' first-round playoff loss to Tampa Bay when his concussion symptoms returned.