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Crosby breaks silence to dispel rumors

Sidney Crosby had gone 10 days without speaking to the media, but a report out of Toronto -- one that Crosby vehemently denies -- forced the Penguins' captain out of his silence Tuesday.

Crosby wanted to make some things clear, namely that he remains unaware of when he will return from concussion-related symptoms and that he isn't boycotting the NHL All-Star Game Jan. 30 in Raleigh, N.C. A report in the Toronto Globe and Mail suggested that Crosby is angry that the league failed to discipline Washington's David Steckel and Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman for their hits on Crosby, and that the league's leading scorer will bypass the festivities in Raleigh as a protest against the NHL.

"That's not even close," Crosby said. "I'll be there if I can be there. I still haven't ruled out being there. Hopefully in the next few days things will get better."

Crosby was the victim of two clear head shots, something that the NHL is supposedly attempting to remove from the game. Even a team that is among Crosby's most bitter rivals showed support for his situation.

The Detroit Red Wings, who twice battled Crosby for the Stanley Cup in a couple of epic series, implied that Crosby should have been better protected by the NHL.

"We're trying to get rid of the head shots," Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We don't need it in our game."

Crosby and Lidstrom once had a feud of their own, when many Red Wings voiced their displeasure because Crosby was slow to join the handshake line following the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup victory. Following Detroit's morning skate Tuesday at Consol Energy Center, however, Lidstrom seemed genuinely concerned about Crosby. Lidstrom, who was named one of two captains for the NHL All-Star Game yesterday, said the weekend won't be the same if Crosby is unable to play.

"I think he's the best player in the league," Lidstrom said. "He will be missed if he's not there."

Detroit coach Mike Babcock coached against Crosby in both series between the rivals and also was his coach last year in the Olympics. Babcock expressed his admiration of Crosby and made it clear that the NHL should be protecting its biggest name.

"We hit each other as hard as we want," he said. "But you don't have to hit in the head. The hits to the head, you don't need. In Europe, if you touch the head, it's an automatic penalty."

Babcock said he enjoyed being around Crosby during the Olympics and he's hopeful that he will soon return. Crosby hasn't played since Jan. 5 against the Lightning.

"He's great for the game," Babcock said. "He loves hockey. He has soul."

Crosby might have soul, but he doesn't yet have his health. The star, who continues to lead the league in scoring, is feeling better but didn't indicate that he is close to returning. He hasn't been able to work out or skate since sustaining the injury.

"I've definitely gotten better," Crosby said. "It's kind of hard to judge. I feel like I'm progressing."

The concussion symptoms haven't completely vanished.

"It's kind of on and off," he said. "As far as symptoms go, it's mostly headaches and that kind of thing. Some days you feel good and you've had progress. Other days are a little tougher."

There is no timetable for his return. Crosby said he hopes to play in the all-star game but can't make any promises.

"There's a slight chance I'll be back for that," he said. "That's what I'm hoping. If I can be there, I'll be there."

Crosby said there were times when he believed he may have sustained a slight concussion earlier in his career, but now that he's experienced one, he clearly believes this was his first. And he hopes it is his last.

"You gain a perspective on things," he said. "You realize how serious and how tough it is."

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