PITTSBURGH -- The wait continues for Sidney Crosby, even though it might not go on that much longer.
On a day of guarded optimism in Pittsburgh that Crosby finally would get clearance to engage in full contact during practice, the Pittsburgh Penguins' captain went through another game-day skate wearing a no-contact helmet.
Despite a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report that Crosby was scheduled to meet with his concussion specialists Tuesday -- perhaps to be cleared to participate in full-scale practices -- Crosby said the meeting won't occur until later this week. He did not offer a date, or any prediction about what might happen when it does.
"I don't know who said I had an appointment today, but I don't," Crosby said. "It's the same as usual. I feel good. It went good today and I'm excited to be home."
"I mean, I'm closer than I was yesterday. But I can't give you a date. I'd love to -- trust me -- give you a date I can come back and play, but right now, it's the same." --Sidney Crosby
Crosby, who is mending from a concussion that occurred more than nine months ago, continues to show signs that his recovery is accelerating rapidly. He accidentally was knocked down by assistant coach Tony Granato during a drill without incident, and he said again he has had no concussion-related symptoms since training camp began Sept. 17.
"It's never fun watching (games), but it's nice to be getting closer and it's nice being out there and going hard and I haven't had anything that's really worried me," he said. "It's been nice to have had that the last couple of weeks."
Crosby, 24, usually meets at least once a week with specialist Michael "Mickey" Collins, a clinician and researcher who heads the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center concussion testing unit. Crosby said the sessions usually consist of him answering various questions, taking some concussion-related tests and reviewing his progress to date.
"He asks questions and, like any other doctor and any other injury, he asks questions," Crosby said. "There's little tests, there's always kind of different things they want to make sure are good in their minds, and in mine as well. There's constant communication and we talk every few days anyway, but when I see him there's usually a little more testing that goes with it."
There wasn't any anticipation when the NHL season began last week that Crosby would be ready to play this soon, but when Crosby traveled with the team on its season-opening three-game trip through Western Canada, there was hope it could happen sooner rather than later.
"I mean, I'm closer than I was yesterday," Crosby said. "But I can't give you a date. I'd love to -- trust me -- give you a date I can come back and play, but right now, it's the same."
Teammates said Crosby is looking more and more like the player they remember, and it's obvious they are growing eager for his return.
"He's looking great on the ice and he's making great strides to get back," said forward James Neal, who is expected to play on Crosby's line once he's healthy.
For now, Crosby must be content with beating goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during practice, rather than opposing NHL goalies during games.
"I enjoy competing out there. The more you go through it and the better you come out of it, I think it's always a good sign," Crosby said.
Still, even when Crosby is cleared to deliver and receive hits during practice, it won't mean he'll immediately go back into the lineup. He must get through various but undisclosed steps during full-contact practices.
Among them, no doubt, is making sure Crosby is fully prepared to play all-out, with no worry or hesitation that the next big hit might cause another injury.
"When I come back, I've got to make sure I'm confident," he said. "If I'm thinking about that, the chances of me getting hit are probably better. The more you hesitate, the more chance of that happening. I'll do everything I can to make sure I'm ready; at the same time, you can't simulate getting crushed by a guy on the open ice."