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Penguins notebook: Orpik skates with injured teammates, not expected back soon

| Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, 10:21 a.m.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby goes in the corner for the puck between the Devils' Steve Bernier and Damien Brunner (12) in the second period Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby goes in the corner for the puck between the Devils' Steve Bernier and Damien Brunner (12) in the second period Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

Brooks Orpik is skating, not progressing.

Still dealing with concussion symptoms, Orpik skated with other injured Penguins prior to a game-day practice at Consol Energy Center on Friday morning.

Coach Dan Bylsma downplayed the significance of Orpik's first time on the ice since an attack by Boston's Shawn Thornton in a loss at TD Garden last Saturday night.

Bylsma said Orpik's skating session was merely “light workouts in a familiar environment,” and added that Orpik is not symptom-free.

Orpik, as is club policy on injured players, was not available for comment.

He was knocked unconscious after being taken down from behind then repeatedly punched by Thornton. Orpik's symptoms since have included memory loss, headaches and neck soreness.

NHL protocol calls for a player to pass a baseline cognitive test before gaining return-to-play clearance after a concussion diagnosis. A player cannot take that test until he is without symptoms.

Orpik has not taken that test.

Thornton decision looms

Thornton had an in-person supplemental discipline hearing with NHL Player Safety on Friday afternoon.

Any ruling will be announced Saturday.

The Penguins, as an organization, had not received any indication of the severity of Thornton's potential supplemental discipline — though players said Friday they believe a suspension would be a least 15 games.

“I want to see what kind of direction the league is going to go on this,” winger Pascal Dupuis said.

Shero talks Neal suspension

General manager Ray Shero said he had Player Safety send him all videos of incidents that resulted in right winger James Neal's three suspensions and one fine for illegal hits.

Those will be used to help Neal refine his approach, not change his game entirely as winger Matt Cooke did three years ago. Neal served the second game of his five-game suspension Friday.

“We don't have a serial killer here,” Shero said of Neal, whose latest suspension — and second with the Penguins — was for delivering a knee to the head of Boston's Brad Marchand last Saturday night.

“It's an emotional response to something that happens on the ice,” Shero said. “He's got to think more before he reacts. It's part of maturity, part of learning. With any player, you want respect with the way you play, but you also want respect from your peers around the league that you're an honest, hard player.

“You find that line. It's part of our responsibility to (help), but certainly it ultimately falls to that player.”

Wearing white outside

The Penguins will wear white jerseys against Chicago for the Stadium Series game at Solider Field on March 1. The jerseys were unveiled Friday.

Neither the Skating Penguin emblem nor black/Las Vegas gold color scheme was altered.

The jerseys feature a black shoulder plate, striped sleeves and piping at the bottom. Also, there is a metallic tint to the crest.

The Penguins will wear the Stadium Series jerseys only once. There are tentative planes for a new alternate jersey that could debut next season.

A design is not finalized, but under consideration is a jersey similar to the ones the Penguins wore during their 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup runs.

Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach them at and or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib and @JoshYohe_Trib.

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