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Malkin skating again, but won?t return this season

by Alan Robinson
PITTSBURGH Evgeni Malkin is skating again, slightly more than 2 ½ months since he underwent season-ending knee surgery. That doesn't mean the former NHL scoring champion is about to make a miraculous return to the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup.

While Malkin has been skating for a half-hour or so a day since Thursday, an anticipated step in his lengthy rehabilitation, coach Dan Bylsma said Malkin won't play again until next season.

"It's nine weeks into a long haul for Geno," Bylsma said Saturday.

Malkin underwent surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee Feb. 4 against Buffalo. Bylsma said the 4-to-6 month timetable for Malkin to play again has not changed.

Bylsma likely was attempting to end any speculation that Malkin's recovery might not take nearly as long as originally estimated.

Root Sports, the Penguins' local TV rights holder, showed video of Malkin skating loosely and with no apparent discomfort during its telecast of the Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay playoff game Saturday.

"He's doing well, working hard, but getting on the ice right now is really more for him to get his skates on, to test the ice," Bylsma said. "It's not really part … of getting into game shape."

Bylsma suggested it's unrealistic to expect Malkin to practice until next season, either.

"(Getting on the ice) is more for his mindset than it is to get him ready for a practice situation or anything like that," Bylsma said.

Malkin, awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP after the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009, had 15 goals and 22 assists for 37 points in 43 games before getting hurt this season.

Sidney Crosby, the Penguins' other injured star, has been out since Jan. 5 with a concussion. While he is practicing on selected days, he has not been cleared for contact work and his return to game action does not appear imminent.
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