Whether it was hope or speculation or what was seen as good timing, the idea that Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby might return from injury Friday has been making the rounds.
It does not appear that will be the case.
Crosby did not skate Thursday in Denver – not with the team at practice and not separately. Coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby had a scheduled day off from his recovery and rehab process after Nov. 14 core muscle surgery. Sullivan indicated that process is still ongoing and not at its conclusion.
Crosby joined the team for its weeklong trip west, one that opened with a 4-3 win Tuesday at Vegas.
Friday, the Penguins play at Colorado. Avalanche star Nate MacKinnon and Crosby are close friends, summer workout partners and homies from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. That probably played into heightened speculation that Crosby might return Friday.
However, Crosby has not gotten into a practice with contact, something he said last week he needed to do as a next step.
“Sid’s going through a rehab process. (Given) the nature of this injury, it’s an evolving process,” Sullivan said. “Part of that process is introducing him to the team environment. We see how he responds to the team environment, and the medical staff makes decisions accordingly. That’s just part of the evolving process he’s going through.”
Sullivan said earlier this week that it was conceivable the Penguins could get an injured player back during the road trip, which ends Sunday at Arizona. The Penguins have a practice scheduled for Saturday.
While there still is no timetable for Crosby’s return, at least none that has been made public, Sullivan said it’s been a positive thing having the center on the road.
“It’s great. He’s had some really strong days,” Sullivan said. “You can see him getting stronger with each day that he’s out there.”
Apparently, that works both says.
“I think just his presence around the team,” Sullivan said. “Everyone looks up to him. He just has a great presence. He’s a great teammate. He’s close friends with these guys.
“For him to be around the team like this is terrific for all of us.”
The Penguins flew from Las Vegas to Denver and held practice Thursday at the Pepsi Center, home of the Avalanche.
The other two injured players who are traveling with the team – center Nick Bjugstad and defenseman Justin Schultz – did not practice Thursday but skated afterward.
According to reports from Denver, forward Joseph Blandisi practiced after clearing waivers at noon. He can be returned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to make roster room for any player who might return soon from injury.