Crosby, Malkin likely out for all-star game
The NHL All-Star Game next Sunday in Raleigh, N.C., is a near certainty to be played without the Penguins' two highest-profile players.
Center Sidney Crosby definitely won't play, and center Evgeni Malkin is very unlikely to participate.
Neither the Penguins nor either player would comment late Saturday night. However, multiple sources confirmed early Sunday that the players' respective injuries will keep them out of the game -- though perhaps not off-ice all-star weekend activities.
The Penguins are expected to declare Crosby out for the all-star game with an official announcement over the next few days. A final decision on Malkin's availability has yet to be determined, but the club considers his chances of playing very slim.
Crosby and Malkin were two of four Penguins voted as all-star starters by fans, along with defenseman Kris Letang and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Letang and Fleury will play in their first NHL All-Star Games, barring injury.
It is not know if either Crosby or Malkin would travel to North Carolina for participation in off-ice festivities, as Crosby did in 2009 at Montreal even though a knee injury prevented him from playing in the game.
Crosby has missed eight straight games because of a concussion. Malkin has missed the past two with a bum left knee and a sinus infection.
Before a loss Thursday at New Jersey, both former NHL scoring champions had never missed the same game. Neither player dressed in Saturday's home win against Carolina.
Malkin, whose knee was originally injured in October, had the injury aggravated twice this month during games at Montreal (Jan. 6) and at Boston (Jan. 15).
He previously missed four games because of the knee, upon which he has worn a brace and received daily treatment from the team medical staff. Teammates believe the nagging nature of the injury has contributed to Malkin being on pace for his worst statistical season.
Crosby, the NHL leader in goals and points at the time of his injury, has not played since Jan. 5. He remains afflicted by concussion symptoms, including headaches and neck soreness.
The Penguins believe he was injured on a hit from behind by Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman on Jan. 5, though another blow to the head by Washington forward David Steckel on Jan. 1 also may have contributed to Crosby's symptoms.
Neither Steckel nor Hedman were punished by the NHL, despite a rule instituted late last season to steer blindside hits, specifically to the head, from the game. Crosby, speaking on Jan. 8, took issue with both hits and implored the NHL to take a closer look at blindside shots to the head.
He also implored the NHL for a closer look at blindside head shots and to develop more clearly defined rules aimed at keeping players safe - offering that opinion late last season after Penguins left wing Matt Cooke delivered an at-the-time legal blow to Boston center Marc Savard, whose resulting concussion kept him out until Round 2 of the playoffs.
Savard, who has been oft-concussed throughout his career, left a game Saturday because of another head injury.
The NHL Players Association has grown increasingly concerned over the hot-button headshot topic in light of the Crosby situation, a Penguins player recently confirmed. New executive director Donald Fehr was said to be getting caught up to speed on the subject.
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