PITTSBURGH -- Yes, it's scary, Sidney Crosby said, and how could it not be? A concussion is sidelining him from the game he loves, and neither Crosby nor his doctors know exactly when he'll be able to play again.
During a 10-minute session with reporters, the Pittsburgh Penguins star said Thursday there is no timetable for his return -- either to practice or games. He only can wait, rest and hope he gets better sooner rather than later.
Crosby is confident he'll be able to return to the Penguins at some point this season -- "Geez, I hope so," he said -- although he acknowledges there is a chance he won't.
The uncertainty, Crosby said, is one of the most difficult aspects of his injury.
"I'm getting better, it's just slow. That's the tough part, the progression," Crosby said during his first interview since Jan. 25. "Everything is improving, but it's just at a slower rate than I'd want it to be. That's kind of something, like I said, that's out of my control and you just hope with time and, hopefully, (it's) the quicker the better.
"But there's no timetable. It's whatever. It's impossible to kind of gauge or really put a number of days on it or a timetable."
Crosby has tried not to consider the possibility he might miss the rest of the season.
"You know what? That could happen. But am I sitting here packing it in? No. I hope I'm back and, geez, I hope I play this year," Crosby said. "But that's the thing with these things, you don't know. There's no time frame. Like I said, I'm expecting to play this year."
Crosby's only other sustained injury layoff came when he was sidelined for six weeks with a high ankle sprain during the 2007-08 season.
"It's really scary," Crosby said. "There's not anything that you can really compare it to. The fact as far as being out, being away, and how to deal with that, probably going back to when I hurt my ankle, that helps me a bit. But this is a little different when you're talking about your brain.
"Yeah, it's scary, but like I said, to a certain extent or certain point, there's nothing you can do except give yourself a chance to heal and, hopefully, it happens sooner rather than later."
Crosby recently returned to Pittsburgh after spending some time with his parents in an undisclosed warm-weather location. The idea was to rest and relax, something he couldn't do while he was constantly getting asked about how he was feeling.
The mini-vacation was his doctor's idea, Crosby said.
"Kind of told me to get away, that's basically it," Crosby said. "It's not the easiest thing coming in every day hoping to do something. It's great that everyone asks how you're doing, but it's just a constant reminder that you're not playing and you're injured. So sometimes it's good to get away from that a bit and have the opportunity to see my parents and hang out with them for a bit. Just to kind of get away from the everyday questions.
"I was here during the All-Star break, when everyone was gone, so it was getting kind of long just staying in one spot. Kind of getting stir crazy."
Crosby was the NHL's leading scorer before being sidelined following a Jan. 5 game against Tampa Bay in which defenseman Victor Hedman drove him into the boards. Crosby also sustained a hard hit from Washington's David Steckel during the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1.
Despite not playing for more than five weeks, Crosby remains second in the League with 32 goals and fourth with 66 points.
Several other NHL players who have had concussions contacted Crosby, but he has not spoken with any to discuss his recovery.
"Everyone can kind of relate to what you go through and the uncertainty and all those things that go with it," Crosby said. "But as far as symptoms and those kinds of things, they can be so scattered and so different that it's a perfect example of kind of over-thinking things."
His teammates, more than anyone, want to know when he might be back, but center Jordan Staal said they are respecting his privacy.
"We're all in the dark, no question. He likes to keep that stuff close to the vest and I don't blame him," Staal said. "A lot of people are asking questions, but when he's around you try not to ask him too many questions about how he's doing. Obviously it's tough enough when you get all these guys asking how he's doing. He'll be ready when he's ready."
For our team, as a group, we've never been this far before, and so it's just more lessons learned, and sometimes you have to go to the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn't. We've got a young group. They've played some unreal hockey here to get us this far, and we showed if we're not going to play the proper way, a really, really good hockey team is going to beat you, and that's what they did. It's a lesson learned.
— Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Rangers win in Game 6 forced a Game 7 that will be played at Madison Square Garden on Friday