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Sidney Crosby won't play in opener on Thursday

Penguins captain sidelined with concussion, out of lineup against Capitals

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa .-- Sidney Crosby will not play on Thursday when the Pittsburgh Penguins open their season against Washington Capitals at PPG Paints Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN; TVA Sports 2) because of a concussion.

Crosby, who skated wearing a no-contact jersey on Wednesday, said he was taking his recovery day-by-day after being diagnosed with his third concussion in six years.

"It's a game you want to be a part of," Crosby told the Penguins website Wednesday. "If you're ready you're ready if not you don't want to take chances."

After missing Pittsburgh's practice on Monday and its final preseason game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, Crosby took the ice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex with injured forward Bryan Rust before practice Tuesday. Crosby skated around the rink and took shots on goalie development coach Mike Chiasson.

"I was happy to be able to skate today," Crosby said. "[Concussions] happen. They happen in a lot of different sports. Guys have multiple concussions and are fine. I just think you have to treat them the right way and make sure that you handle it right, and that you're honest. I'm comfortable and confident that things will be OK."

Crosby last skated in practice on Friday, when he sustained the concussion. Following the practice, Crosby said he intended to play in Pittsburgh's sixth and final preseason game after missing the previous five while captaining Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

But when he awoke Saturday, Crosby experienced a headache severe enough to warrant discussion with team trainers.

Video: Crosby skates, discusses concussion protocol

"Just kind of got tangled up in practice on Friday and didn't really think anything of it and Saturday, didn't feel great," Crosby said. "Obviously, having been down this road before, I just talked to the trainers and they felt it was best to kind of keep me out and kind of go through the protocol here.

"Everyone kind of has different [symptoms], but I just felt a little off."

Crosby said he is pleased with his progression but could not update his recovery timeline.

"They just want to know how you feel, your symptoms and kind of the extent that you exert yourself," he said. "All those things kind of come into play. Today, I went pretty hard, so we'll see how I feel tomorrow and kind of go based off of that. It's not as cut-and-dry. I think it just depends on what you do and how much progression that is."

Crosby's concussion history is well-documented. It began Jan. 1, 2011, when Washington Capitals forward David Steckel hit him in the head during the 2011 Winter Classic as Crosby veered away from the boards after a puck passed by his skate, causing him to look in the opposite direction.

Despite the hit, Crosby had an assist and played 19:03 against the Tampa Bay Lightning four days later. However, he did not play again until Nov. 21, 2011, against the New York Islanders, which was his first of eight games back before missing an additional three months with concussion-related symptoms.

Crosby returned again against the New York Rangers on March 15, 2012, and remained in the Penguins lineup throughout the rest of the season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Four years removed from his last concussion, Crosby said he expects a smoother recovery this time because of how concussion awareness and treatment has evolved in professional sports.

"The fact that so much has been talked about and we've learned so much in a short period of time, so I think there's a really good structure in place for how to get back," Crosby said. "I feel confident and comfortable with everything. So, I just take it day-by-day."

Before sustaining the third concussion of his career on Friday, Crosby seemed poised to possibly have a career year coming off strong performances in the 2016 playoffs and World Cup. He scored 19 points (six goals) in 24 games to win the Conn Smythe Trophy and help Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup in June, then finished with 10 points (three goals) in six games to earn World Cup MVP three months later.

Crosby said his experience with concussions allows him to understand the process, which could help him recover as quickly as possible without causing further damage.

"Going through it, I think you understand the process," Crosby said. "I think progress is a good thing and you just go day-by-day. I don't think you look too far ahead. … You just kind of understand there's a progression and you just kind of look at that and make sure you're doing everything right to get back out."

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