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Pens' Crosby cleared to begin off-ice workouts

Penguins general manager Ray Shero noticed something about his club's superstar center Sidney Crosby when they met for a lunch with the coaching staff last week.

"He seemed really happy, really good ... (like) he is looking forward to being himself again," Shero said Thursday after confirming that Crosby has been cleared by team doctors to resume offseason off-ice workouts.

Crosby gained that clearance from Dr. Michael Collins of UPMC on Wednesday. He had not worked out in any form since late April, when his attempt to return from a concussion and play in the Stanley Cup playoffs was halted by the re-occurrence of headaches.

Shero said he "did not want to speculate" about the nature of those headaches, but Crosby's confidants have said those were the result of a sinus infection.

He had been cleared by Collins for non-contact practices in early April, leading to speculation from inside and outside of the organization that he could return at some point during the postseason.

Shero acknowledged the likelihood of Crosby playing in the playoffs "wasn't great ... but he wanted to give it a try, and that's what he was working so hard for."

Crosby could not be reached for comment and has returned to his home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has not played since Jan. 5, when he absorbed a second blindside hit over a span of four days. Team doctors diagnosed him with a concussion Jan. 6.

At the time of his injury, Crosby paced the NHL with 32 goals and 66 points through 41 games -- a pace for career-best totals of 64 goals and 132 points.

The Penguins scored two or fewer goals in 26 games without him, including in five of seven first-round playoff games against Tampa Bay.

Shero expressed cautious optimism about Crosby's potential for a return to normal hockey activities by training camp in September.

Crosby, who will continue to check in with Dr. Collins while in Halifax, is expected to begin workouts with a personal trainer next week, according to his camp. In the past he has started on-ice workouts in late July, with the intensity of those ramping up throughout August.

"I guess we'll see how everything goes with him in the summer," Shero said. "It's the usual summer routine for him now."

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