Sidney Crosby was on the ice with his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Thursday in Tampa, Fla., at the St. Pete Times Forum -- the latest step in his road to recovery from a concussion that has sidelined him for nearly three months.
Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Crosby skated for about 35 minutes with the team during their morning skate in preparation for a game Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and then he remained on the ice for individual work for another 15-20 minutes.
Crosby spoke with reporters after the workout and said he's had no recent recurrences of post-concussion symptoms.
"No," Crosby said. "At this point, when you haven't skated that much and you're out there, it's important that you're able to separate the two into being fatigued, feeling what's new, and what's symptoms of a concussion. That's why it's more than one day.
"With every step it's that you don't get symptoms. Obviously it's not just one day. It's at least a few days, if not more. The main thing is to not look too far ahead -- just try to get through each step and hopefully it goes well."
Pittsburgh's captain began skating on his own March 14, and then progressed to skating with a few other players either not playing or recovering from injuries of their own. Thursday, though, was Crosby's first full-team workout. He has not played since a Jan. 5 game against the Lightning, but was cleared Wednesday to participate in the team's morning skates without contact.
"They basically tell me what to do. They know better than I do," Crosby said. "I was pretty excited to hear that I'd be joining the team and would do a little pregame skate here and there.
"I was pretty excited. It doesn't seem like much. You do that 80 times a year, but it feels good. Especially because I've been sitting around a bunch of time now; it was just nice to be around the guys. You miss that a lot."
Penguins General Manager Ray Shero said Wednesday he does not expect Crosby to return before the end of the regular season and possibly not until next season. Despite missing nearly half of the season at this point, his 32 goals are 10th in the League his 66 points keeps him in the top 20 in that category.
Crosby and the organization will continue to monitor his progress before he takes the next step and joins the Penguins for a normal practice.
"With every step it's that you don't get symptoms. Obviously it's not just one day. It's at least a few days, if not more. The main thing is to not look too far ahead -- just try to get through each step and hopefully it goes well." --Sidney Crosby
"Just the motion, all the guys out there, it's something you take for granted a lot, but it's something you have to get readjusted to," Crosby said. "It puts a little added pressure on your brain a bit when everyone is moving out there and you have to react to all that. So it's just trying to see how that goes.
"There's no set time. Usually with certain things you've got a set time frame (but) that's not the case. With the time of the year -- that doesn't make it any easier. It's just a frustrating thing in general to go through. There's so many different opinions. Everyone who's gone through concussions reacts differently, so it's not easy to get a real grasp on what you're going to go through. That's been different. That's been the challenge."
The Penguins lead the Lightning by five points for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and a win Thursday would go a long way to ensuring home-ice advantage if the two teams meet in the first round.
Pittsburgh suffered a blow in its attempt to catch Philadelphia for the top spot in the Atlantic Division with a 5-2 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday, but the Penguins are 19-12-4 since Crosby's injury and have continued to win despite losing fellow superstar Evgeni Malkin in early February to a season-ending knee injury.
A big part of the team's success can be attributed to its 13-1-5 record in one-goal games since Crosby went out. Marc-Andre Fleury has been fantastic in net, and coach Dan Bylsma has moved to the top of the list of contenders for the Jack Adams award as the Penguins have survived without their franchise centers.
"It says a lot. It's amazing to see what we've gone through," Crosby said. "It wasn't just me and Geno (Malkin). We had seven or eight guy regular guys out. It's been different guys. (Fleury) has been huge throughout the whole year, (Tyler Kennedy) recently putting the puck in the net. It takes everybody collectively, and we all know that. This has been a pretty good reminder of the character we have in this room."