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Pens cautious with Crosby concussion

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pens will open the 2016-17 season and their Stanley Cup-title defense on Thursday night against the hated Washington Capitals at PPG Paints Arena.

And they may have to do so without their captain. 

Crosby, 29, was diagnosed with a concussion on Monday and his current playing status is unknown.

"It is what it is," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "Injuries are a part of our game. Part of the challenge is for us to help 'Sid' get healthy as quickly as possible. That's what we're going to do. We don't look at it any other way. For me, frustration at this point is a useless emotion."

Crosby, who had partaken in only two practices in training camp since returning from the World Cup of Hockey, suffered the concussion during last Friday's practice session.

Crosby, who previously suffered a concussion in 2011, was expected to suit up for the Pens' final preseason game on Saturday, but wasn't feeling well when he arrived at the rink. So the team held him out.

Crosby did not practice Monday and underwent concussion protocol. The medical team diagnosed Crosby with a concussion following those tests.

"Our medical staff will take the appropriate measures moving forward," Sullivan said. "We take all of the concussions that our players are afflicted with seriously."

Concussions are a tricky injury. Unlike a broken bone, which has a very specific timeframe with which it takes to heal, concussions can last anywhere from a few days to months. With that being the case, the Pens are not going to speculate on the possible length of time Crosby will be out. And they certainly won't rush him to return.

"Our medical staff follows strict guidelines. There is a certain protocol," Sullivan said. "That's how our team operates. We always have our players' best interests and health as the priority. Regardless of who the player is; that's how we feel."

In the meantime, the Pens have to adapt to Crosby's absence until he is able to return.

"He's obviously an important player for us, but our team has dealt with injuries in the past to some of our key players," Sullivan said. "In instances where some of our players go down with injuries it presents opportunities for others to step up. That's just the nature of our business. We're fortunate we have the depth that we have."

"He's our leader. When he's in the room or on the ice it changes a lot of things," linemate Conor Sheary said. "We know that we've had guys step up in big situations before and we have that confidence again this year. If everyone sticks to their own game, we know we're good enough to win."

Crosby missed 61 consecutive games between the 2010-11 and '11-12 seasons due to a concussion and neck injury suffered in the 2011 Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2011. He returned to the lineup 11 months later on Nov. 21 against the NY Islanders, scoring two goals and four points. He was sidelined again in early December with a concussion until returning for good mid-March. 

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