Friday, September 16, 2011
Sidney Crosby plans opening skate
By Scott Burnside
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is planning to skate at the team's first on-ice session of training camp Saturday morning.
"I'm cleared to practice without contact so that's good news for me. Excited to get going," Crosby said Friday morning after team physicals were conducted. "Pretty happy with the way things have gone the last week or so. The exertion's been pretty high and that's where I'm at right now."
The star center has not played since Jan. 6 because of concussion symptoms, but he told reporters Friday morning that he has not ruled out being cleared for contact at some point during training camp.
"I think camp will be a pretty good indication. It's going to be pretty intense. Even without contact I'm sure it'll be a pretty good pace so I'll see how things go then," he said.
When he met with reporters Sept. 7 to update his status publicly, Crosby -- accompanied by team officials and concussion experts who have been treating him -- reiterated he would not play until he was 100 percent recovered.
Crosby would not put a percentage on his recovery Friday, but sounded more optimistic than a week ago.
"It's hard to say what I've actually gone to, but I feel like I've done pretty good tests of exertion at different points and responded pretty well so, yeah, I think the main thing is I feel pretty comfortable and confident with where I'm at heading into camp here," he said.
The Penguins have divided the players into three groups to start training camp, and coach Dan Bylsma said Friday that Crosby will skate with the group that does not scrimmage each day.
"He'll be at the same pace and tempo that the other guys are going to be in," Bylsma said.
As for the emotional lift of having Crosby on the ice to start camp, Bylsma pointed out that Crosby has been skating regularly with his teammates in informal workouts.
"But in terms of seeing Sidney Crosby on the ice in a jersey and participating in practice, I think it's always good to see that, and he'll be out there with his teammates participating," Bylsma said.
The Penguins open the regular season Oct. 6 in Vancouver.
Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.