Pittsburgh Penguins center and captain Sidney Crosby participated in practice Tuesday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. He had been skating on his own, but this was his first time back on the ice with his teammates since had sports hernia surgery Nov. 14.
Afterward, Crosby threw forth a big caution flag, however. Although he participated in drills and such (there were no line rushes to see combinations), and reported he has made good progress in his recovery, he he has not been cleared for contact. In fact, he has not really been cleared for practice on a regular basis.
He said ice availability at the practice facility (which is often super booked during the holiday break) was the main reason he joined the club. He indicated that he “probably will go back to (skating) on my own” Wednesday before he joins practice on a permanent basis at some point in the future.
Still, it was a boon to see that the Penguins captain was the first on the ice this morning before the Penguins noon practice.
Sidney Crosby on the ice at the start of practice. Apologies for the quality (of the video, not his skill). pic.twitter.com/ntIjqZy08U
— Shelly Anderson (@_ShellyAnderson) December 31, 2019
Crosby last played on Nov. 9 against Chicago. He left that game after an awkward bend near the boards and had surgery Nov. 14. He admitted Tuesday that the problem had been bothering him, but he was resolved to push through it before he aggravated it.
“It was bugging me a bit,” he said. “It probably took what happened in that game to put it over the edge. It’s just something I had to deal with. … If you can play, you play. That’s really what it comes down to. You can either play or you can’t. It got to the point where I couldn’t.’
The prognosis when he had surgery was that he would be out at least six weeks. It’s been a little more than that, but Crosby seemed happy with the progress.
“It’s going well,” he said. “It just takes time. You need to heal. You need time to do that. I think with each week it’s gotten better and better. That’s the most important thing.”
At the time he left the lineup, Crosby was the Penguins leading scorer. He has 17 points in 17 games, including five goals and is an uncharacteristic minus-1. Crosby hasn’t scored a goal since Oct. 29 against Philadelphia. He had one goal and two assists in that game.
Crosby is one of a handful of Penguins still on IR. The list includes defensemen Justin Schultz, Brian Dumoulin, and forward Nick Bjugstad. Also, the Penguins announced on Tuesday morning that Jake Guentzel would likely miss the remainder of the regular season and more due to shoulder surgery. Guentzel slammed face-first into the wall on Monday night moments after he scored his 20th goal of the season.
Monday afternoon, the NHL also named Guentzel to the All-Star Game next month in St. Louis. The NHL will likely replace Guentzel with a representative from the Penguins, as the team does not have another player on the Metro Division squad. Defenseman Kris Letang is a candidate for the fan-voted “Last Men In”.
The Penguins host the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena. Crosby said there is no chance he will play in that game and said there is no timetable for his return.
He has been thrilled to see the Penguins continue to win despite the plague of injuries.
“The team is playing unbelievable,” he said. “For the last however long — even prior to when I got hurt — just guys going down left and right and still finding ways to win. It’s been great to see. I want to be back as soon as possible, but there’s still really no timeline.”