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Penguins' Bryan Rust returns to practice, responds to Mike Milbury's criticism

Jonathan Bombulie
| Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 1:09 p.m.
Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) celebrates with the bench after his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) celebrates with the bench after his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Penguins winger Bryan Rust was back on the ice for practice Tuesday, six days after suffering a concussion in Philadelphia when he was boarded by Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg.

Afterwards, Rust delivered a polite, measured response to analyst Mike Milbury's criticism of his role in the play.

“I'm not going to name names, but I wasn't very happy with some of the comments that I heard,” Rust said. “People have different opinions. I didn't think it was a terrible hit, but I definitely did think it was a boarding. I didn't think it deserved any more than two minutes. It is what it is. Refs see it one way. Fans see it one way. Commentators see it one way. It's just a matter of opinion.”

During an intermission segment on the NBC Sports Network broadcast of the game, Milbury said Rust knowingly put himself in position to be hit.

“I know he's got to go to the quiet room. So what? I don't care. It's a legitimate hit for me,” Milbury said. “This is a guy that knew he was going to get hit, turned his back on the play, made himself defenseless. The player that was penalized didn't overdo it. Poor call. That's wussification of the sport.”

Rust switched from a gray non-contact jersey to a regular gold jersey in the middle of Tuesday's practice. He skated on the left wing of a line with Derick Brassard and Phil Kessel and his return appears to be imminent.

Goalie Matt Murray, who has been out since taking a shot to the helmet in practice Feb. 26, also made significant strides forward Tuesday in his return from a concussion.

Murray took shots without restriction in a pre-practice skating session. He will accompany the team on its two-game road trip to New York on Wednesday and Montreal on Thursday, coach Mike Sullivan said.

“It's a big relief,” Sullivan said. “These guys are important players for us. The fact that they're tracking the right way is really encouraging. We take each day as it comes with the nature of those injuries, but certainly we're excited about the way they're both tracking.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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