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Penguins still waiting on Crosby's health status

by Alan Robinson /

McMURRAY, Pa. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins may not fully know Sidney Crosby's health status until training camp begins, but they are encouraged with the star center 's recovery from a concussion, according to coach Dan Bylsma.

Bylsma said Tuesday while attending the team's annual charity golf tournament that he is "hoping" Crosby will be ready to go for the start of camp in mid-September.

"Sidney's progressed nicely this summer, he's had a long summer, he's worked out in June and July," Bylsma said. "We're hoping for Sidney to come back in and be ready to go for training camp. I know he's worked out more now than he has probably the last three summers."

Penguins general manager Ray Shero confirmed last week that the 24-year-old Crosby was experiencing post-concussion symptoms, although he did not know specifically what they were. The symptoms occurred when Crosby began accelerating his workouts.

When Crosby was forced to stop practicing during the Penguins' first-round playoff loss to Tampa Bay in April, he said the symptoms predominantly were headaches.

In an attempt to refute media speculation that Crosby has stopped skating and might not be ready for the start of the season in October, Crosby's agent, Pat Brisson issued a statement  Monday saying that, "Sidney hasn't been shut down by anyone, He has simply adjusted his summer program according to the different needs for the appropriate recovery."


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Bylsma said he spoke recently with Crosby, but is not certain if his team captain has been skating this week, although he is working out off the ice. Crosby, who has been doing his conditioning work at rinks in Halifax, N.S.,  apparently was in Toronto on Monday for a commercial shoot.

Crosby typically returns to Pittsburgh about a week before the start of camp, which would be in about two weeks.

"I can't wave a wand and tell you how it's going to play out," Bylsma said. "He's progressed and he's worked, and he's worked harder in some areas than he has in the past. He's gone down that road."

There has been considerable speculation about Crosby's status, much of it inaccurate, Bylsma said.

"You take a small snippet of information and try to make it into something that's not really anything. It's happened more than once.," he said.

Before absorbing hard hits in successive games Jan. 1 and Jan. 5, Crosby was the runaway leader in the NHL scoring race with 66 points in 41 games. He resumed skating in late March and practicing in April, but wasn't cleared for contact work. Even if he reports to camp, Crosby still must be cleared for contact before he could absorb hits in practice or play in any games.

After Crosby returns, Bylsma doesn't think his superstar center will have his head on the proverbial swivel, cognizant of trying to avoid the contact to the head that he knows will occur.

"If you have a concussion, you don't think about it a month later when you've played for 10 games. It's not like any other injury," said Bylsma, a former NHL player. "There's a level of confidence and a little bit of time when you're checking your knee out, but there's also a  time when you jump in the water and you're swimming."

While Crosby's status remains unclear, Bylsma said the Penguins couldn't be more pleased with the progress that center Evgeni Malkin has made while recovering from two torn knee ligaments. Bylsma said Malkin is bigger and stronger than he was before getting hurt  Feb. 4 against Buffalo, and has never trained as hard as he has since he was injured.

Penguins strength coach Mike Kadar recently spent two weeks with Malkin in Russia helping him with his off-season conditioning.

Bylsma also believes Malkin is motivated after not producing at his accustomed rate last season before he was hurt. Malkin, a former NHL scoring champion, ended with 15 goals and 22 assists in 43 games.

Recently, Bylsma said Malkin might have been ready to play if the Penguins had advanced another round or two into the postseason. At the time he was hurt, Malkin was believed to be out for the season.

"To see him training like that, two times a day, to hear him be real excited about coming back and being bigger and faster and stronger and get back to playing, it will be exciting to see him put his gear back on," Bylsma said.
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