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Crosby eager to get back in the game

by Dan Rosen
NEWARK, N.J. -- Sidney Crosby chatted with Steven Stamkos about training. He eagerly talked to someone else about Tim Thomas and his performance for the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. Crosby found himself interested in a quick discussion about his coach, Dan Bylsma, perhaps being the next coach for the U.S. Olympic team.

Penguins' center Sidney Crosby (Photo: Getty Images)
He smiled. He laughed. He essentially kicked up his heels and enjoyed his one day at the 2011 NHL Player Media Tour -- and then he was gone, back to Pittsburgh to resume his workouts and rehabilitation from the concussion that has kept him out of action and away from contact since Jan. 5.

But before he left, Crosby sat down with and the NHL Network to further discuss his emotions and his progress one day after holding a news conference in Pittsburgh.

"I can't wait just to get back out there," Crosby said Thursday from the Prudential Center, where he spent his portion of the Player Media Tour. "I know when that time comes I'm going to be confident and ready for that. I don't think there is going to be any doubt in my mind about whether I'm going to be able to do that. That's why it's important to make sure when I do come back that everything is right."

Everything isn't right with Crosby just yet, but it's getting better -- so much so that he finally decided to break his media silence by holding that news conference at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The interest in what Crosby had to say was so high that many networks, both in Canada and the United States, aired the conference live. A Penguins representative said "it felt like a conference finals press conference."

Crosby said Thursday that he is relieved to have finally told his story, said his piece and moved on, at least for now, from the speculation.

"It's nice just to let everyone know that it's not always consistent, that there are good days and bad days throughout the healing process. It's good to educate and have people realize the way it's been. If anything, things are progressing well and I'm excited to get back on the ice." -- Sidney Crosby
"It's nice just to let everyone know that it's not always consistent, that there are good days and bad days throughout the healing process," Crosby said. "It's good to educate and have people realize the way it's been. If anything, things are progressing well and I'm excited to get back on the ice."

Asked why he didn't talk earlier this offseason about his recovery, Crosby said he couldn't because "there would have been a different story on most days."

"It wasn't that I didn't want to say anything; it was making sure what I was saying was completely right," he continued. "With this injury, it's not always clear cut. There is a lot of unknown. There are good days and after those good days I could say everything is great. Then there are bad days and everything is not so great. It's just a matter of waiting until things change a bit.

"I really felt in the last couple of weeks that we made some good progress and that was more newsworthy than reporting day to day on things that seem pretty obvious."


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Crosby admitted the emotional roller coaster he's been on since Jan. 5 has been "draining."

"Mentally you feel like you've played all that time, but that being said I haven't played a game in eight months," he added.

He's found support in other players, specifically former Team Canada teammate Patrice Bergeron, who have suffered through and survived the same type of post-concussion symptoms.

"Bergie is a guy that I played with and he's someone who came back this year and won the Cup after going through a pretty tough ordeal with his concussion," Crosby said. "That's pretty encouraging to me to see someone who has gone through something very similar. He's out there playing the exact same way. He won the Stanley Cup and things are much, much better. That's encouraging.

"The biggest thing is when you talk to guys who have been through this and can relate to all of this. That's the nice part."

Like the rest of them, Crosby's time away from the game has given him a new perspective on his life and career.

"I don't think I have ever taken it for granted, but at the same time you realize how much you miss it when it's gone," Crosby said. "On top of it, it's the day-to-day things we take for granted that aren't always easy when you're going through something like this. I appreciate those things a little more, but that being said there is always worse. I'm going through a concussion and in my world that is tough, but there are a lot of things going on with people that are tougher. You have to remind yourself of that."

Crosby, like everyone else in the hockey world, received that harsh reminder Wednesday with the tragic news that more than 40 people, many who played and coached in the NHL, perished in a plane crash in Russia.

"Obviously we travel a lot and it's not something that you ever think about," Crosby said, "but it makes you realize how precious life is and how lucky we are to be doing what we're doing."

Crosby's confident he'll be doing it again soon.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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