Pens captain Sidney Crosby said "progress is a good thing" after he was able to skate on his own Tuesday despite suffering a concussion last Friday.
Crosby, 29, said he "felt good" following Tuesday's session and made more progress on Wednesday. After skating on his own this morning at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, Crosby joined his teammates for team practice, though he did wear a yellow "no contact" jersey.
"I'm always happy when I'm on the ice," said Crosby, who was officially ruled out by the team for Thursday's season opener against Washington. "Get out there and get more stress from different ways - extra ice, get fatigued more, be around bodies moving around.
"You just try to find that range where you're stressing your body and testing it, but not putting it in a position where you won't feel good. It's a fine line. I'm just trying to make sure I progress. I'm just trying to get better with each day. That's all you can ask for."
Although partial practice is certainly a sign of Crosby's progress, he's also been through enough concussion situations to maintain an even keel in regards to such steps.
"I've been through this before. I don't get caught up in every little step," said Crosby, who has recovered from two previous long-term concussions in his career. "(The media) like to hear every little bit of progress. It can go a lot of different ways.
"You may write or say something today and it may change tomorrow. It's nice to be out there with the guys."
Concussions, unlike a broken bone - which has a certain timeframe - are a very fluid situation. Every player is different and recovers at a different pace. Understanding that and working toward recovery requires a constant dialogue between Crosby and the medical staff.
"You listen to your body and see how things go. Trainers will touch base and make sure everything is good," Crosby said. "It's a constant thing. There isn't a specific timeline. It's more of a constant communication. You just go from there and see how you are the following day."
Crosby knows that the biggest key in recovery is not rushing to play and risking having a setback.
"I've spent more than enough time with being in this situation, you understand that you have to be patient," Crosby said. "You have to listen to your body. If you're ready, you're ready. If not then you don't take any chances. You give yourself a lot better chance of not having it happen again if you treat it the right way. It's something you have to be smart with."
Crosby did take part in portions of practice, including the occasional line rush and power-play rep. But he didn't take on a full load.
"Just working the flow drills," he said. "When it comes to line combinations I just watch those, let guys do their thing and then jump in where I can."
"He's obviously feeling well enough that he wants to join the team for practice and get involved in some of the flow drills," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "We'll take it step-by-step. We're following the guidance of our medical team and we'll go from there. He's certainly making progress and that's encouraging from our standpoint."
Crosby suffered the concussion after getting "tangled up" in last Friday's practice.
When Crosby arrived at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday morning he wasn't feeling well and immediately alerted the team's medical staff and trainers. The team held him out of that afternoon's final preseason game against Columbus as a precaution.
Crosby underwent testing Monday and was diagnosed with a concussion. But he was able to skate on his own Tuesday and participate in Wednesday's "non contact" portion of practice.
"It's good that I'm on the ice. It's a good sign," Crosby said. "I've been through it enough to know that you don't get too high with a little bit of progress. It's nice. It's great to be on the ice. That's the best part. As long as I'm on the ice and things are going well, I'm happy. Maybe it takes longer, maybe it doesn't. You're just looking for progress. That's the main thing. I won't get caught up in too much. You just approach it with a day-to-day mentality and make sure you're improving. That's the biggest thing."
Crosby suffered two concussions and neck injuries during the 2010-11 and '11-12 seasons. He initially suffered the concussion at the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field on Jan. 1, 2011. That injury sidelined him for 11 months, returning to the ice on Nov. 21 against the NY Islanders, where he scored two goals and four points. Crosby suffered another concussion in early December, but returned the following March and hasn't had an issue until this recent occurrence.