Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby participated in his first full-contact practice today since going down in early December with reoccurring concussion symptoms.
The Penguins captain had been symptom free for several days but was only today cleared to participate in contact drills.
"I was cleared to do contact today," Crosby said after practice. "We’ll see how that goes."
This is not unfamiliar territory for the 24-year-old, as he was cleared for contact back in early November and played in eight NHL games (where he registered 12 points) before once again being sidelined with concussions symptoms.
"Contact is a big step. It’s nice to be symptom free, but it’s not as fulfilling until you get out there (to play). I want to make sure I take the right steps here, and hopefully can get back out there soon."
Crosby figures it will take him at least several more practices of full contact before he will be able to join the lineup.
"If you look at our schedule, we have two more practices this week, so no sooner than Sunday I would say. I’m not going to sit here and put a date on it. It’d be total guesswork. I just want to make sure I get through these days fine."
"He’s been skating real hard for a number of days if not weeks," said Penguins head coach, Dan Bylsma.
The Penguins head coach said he would find different ways for Crosby to get contact in practice and would try to gradually increase the amount of contact he receives as they progress.
"Today was day one of that and we’ll see where we progress in day three, four, five, six."
For Crosby and the Penguins, this positive turn of events comes on the heels of a winter where he sought various opinions and remedies from a multitude of different brain, neck, and spine specialists around North America. News took a positive turn in late January when it was reported Crosby apparently wasn’t suffering from a concussion per se, but from bruised neck tissue that created concussion like symptoms.
"With this stuff it’s always kind of trial and error," Crosby explained. "There’s no specific treatment that everyone knows is going to work but you try to do what is related to what you feel. I definitely felt like I saw some improvement with working on my neck, getting that loose. Was it everything? I don’t know but it certainly helped."
Regardless of when he returns, Crosby seems relieved to finally be headache free.
"You get used to having [problems] for so long you forget what normal is."