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Bittersweet weekend for ailing Crosby

by Phil Coffey
MONTREAL -- All things being equal, Sidney Crosby said he would like to be on the ice for NHL All-Star Weekend in Montreal rather than talk about the reasons he isn't.

But things aren't equal for Crosby these days. A balky knee was a concern to Pittsburgh Penguins' physicians, who advised Crosby to sit out the NHL All-Star gala and get some rest.

Like Solomon, Crosby opted to split the baby. He won't participate in Saturday's Scotiabank NHL Fan Fav Breakaway Challenge, nor skate in Sunday's All-Star Game. He did, however, appear at the NHL's media day activities Friday and said he will join in as much as possible in other All-Star events.

He also said the possibility of being forced to sit out a regular-season game because of missing All-Star Weekend was not a factor in his decision to come to Montreal.

"My plan was to come here from the moment that I decided that I wasn't going to be able to play due to injury," Crosby said. "I'd had a talk with Gary Bettman as to the capacity of me being here, what it was going to be.
"I obviously wanted to be here, but still want the focus to be on the guys that are here, too, and not the fact that I'm coming. I'm happy to be a part of it. I'm probably not here playing like I would like to be, but it's the second-best thing and I'm happy to be here anyway."

Crosby grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan, so he was looking forward to being in the center of the All-Star hoopla — but it was not to be.

"I think it's an unfortunate situation," he said. "I remember playing Junior (for Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) and I missed that one. I hurt my ankle and missed the All-Star Game here. I remember watching that game and hoping to be able to play in the NHL here one day.

"I got another chance at playing in an All-Star Game, too, so to not be able to be a part of that, that's something that's tough to take. Like I said, I'm getting the second-best thing, I'm here, and I'm going to experience it. I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can as if I was playing."
Regarding the decision to make players who skip out on All-Star commitments miss a game prior to or immediately after the All-Star Game, Crosby said he could understand the reason for the decision.

"For an event like this, for the All-Star Game, it's important to get everyone involved in it, and on board, especially from the players," Crosby said. "So I don't see anything wrong with that, as long as everyone's aware of the situation. That's something that guys have to deal with.

"As for me, I was planning on being here anyway. It wasn't a huge issue, so, there wasn't a lot of discussion with that. ... In my case it was an injury. There's nothing I can really do with that. That's something that everyone has to deal with, whether you're unlucky or not.

"But I think the standard for it is more toward making sure guys realize how important this is and setting a standard. I think there's nothing wrong with that. We all have the honor of playing in the League, and for some of us we get the opportunity to come here, so I think that's something that's well understood."
Crosby, who has 17 goals and 43 assists in 47 games this season, is hopeful a string of days without skating will allow him to return to the Penguins' lineup Wednesday night against the New York Rangers. The Pens are 23-21-4 this season and sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, so Crosby knows being healthy for the stretch drive is vital.

"Hopefully these five days of not doing anything will give me a chance to hopefully get back as close to 100 percent as I can," he said. "Whether that's the case, I'll find out when I start skating again. But I think this is something that is going to give me the best chance.

"This weekend I'll try to be involved in everything but the actual on-ice things itself. Besides that, I think I'll try to be involved with everything else the guys are doing."

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