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Penguins notebook: Crosby reaches out to injured Stamkos

| Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, 5:45 p.m.

Sidney Crosby is a Steven Stamkos fan.

He also is a friend to Stamkos, whose MVP start to the NHL season was halted by gruesome injury on Monday. Stamkos is out indefinitely with a broken right tibia.

“I just felt terrible seeing that, seeing him — it looked like a lot of pain,” Crosby said after the Penguins practiced at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday.

Crosby “wished him well” in a text message sent within minutes of seeing video footage of Stamkos colliding with a goal post in Tampa Bay's loss at Boston.

Few players know what awaits Stamkos better than Crosby, who played in only eight games from Jan. 5, 2011 to March 14, 2012, because of concussion symptoms. That experience — especially the 10 months before his brief return in November 2011 — provided Crosby with a new perspective on the emotional toll that accompanies a lengthy absence from daily hockey activities, he said.

“There's so much you miss,” Crosby said. “For me, it was competing and being around the guys. When you're not around, you just can't be included like you normally are — and that's hard. I definitely have an appreciation for it because of what I went through. It's not a fun time.”

Crosby and Stamkos began this week tied for the league lead with 23 points. Stamkos — like Crosby (2005) a former No. 1 overall pick (2008) — paced the NHL with 14 goals for his surprising first-place Lightning.

Coincidentally, Crosby led in points (66) and was second to Stamkos in goals (32) when his 2010-11 season was stopped after 41 games because of a concussion.

Crosby warned not to rule out Stamkos from the 2014 Winter Olympics in February, but acknowledged that even a reputably deep hockey power such as Canada “can't replace a Steven Stamkos.”

“What's he got — 200 goals in five years?” Crosby said. “That's just … incredible.”

Penguins forward James Neal trains with Stamkos near Toronto during the summer, and called the loss of his close friend “a big blow” for hockey.

“All the hard work he puts in is because he wants to be the best,” Neal said. “He's such a humble kid. He knows how good he is. He wants to be better all the time.

“It's tough to see that happen to him because guys like that, you just want to see them stay healthy and be able to play.”

As expected

All but three players participated in practice on Tuesday. Lower-body injuries sidelined defenseman Paul Martin and winger Tanner Glass. Defenseman Olli Maatta was excused to take care of an immigration-related matter, coach Dan Bylsma said.

Maatta will play and Glass is probable to face Philadelphia at home on Wednesday night, Bylsma said. He added that Martin, who is day-to-day, is unlikely to play.

Outside look

The league has created special logos for clubs participating in the Stadium Series of outdoor hockey games next year. The Penguins' maintain their “Skating Penguin” emblem, but adds a chrome element to resemble the NHL shield.

Tickets for the Penguins game against Chicago are on sale. Soldier Field will stage the event on March 1.

Around the boards

Fans are encouraged to donate canned items or cash at any of Consol Energy Center's three main gates through the first period of the Penguins-Flyers game on Wednesday. Participating fans are eligible to win autographed items. Proceeds benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. ... Wednesday is another 8 p.m. start.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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