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News mixed on Penguins captain Crosby's status

| Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011

Sidney Crosby is expected back in Pittsburgh in early September, which is when the Penguins figure to determine whether he is medically fit for training camp.

General manager Ray Shero said that Crosby is progressing well while working out in his native Nova Scotia this summer. However, the news is not all positive.

Crosby is still suffering from occasional symptoms related to the concussion he sustained Jan. 5 against Tampa Bay. The symptoms, which Shero did not specify, only occur when Crosby "pushes himself" during workouts.

"He's pushed himself pretty hard this summer, which is the good news," Shero said. "He's never had to get to the point where he's had to shut himself down or anything."

Crosby is working out in Nova Scotia with trainer Andy O'Brien. Shero reported that Crosby's summer workouts have been comparable to previous years' and that he spoke with the Penguins' captain last weekend.

Shero sends occasional text messages to Crosby during the summer but doesn't like to "bug" him with frequent phone calls.

The Penguins don't seem upset that Crosby has chosen to remain in Canada this summer, as opposed to being closely overseen by team doctors.

"He's a creature of habit," Shero said, alluding to Crosby's preference for spending summers in his native country.

Should Crosby be cleared for contact — and such a decision won't be made until camp opens — coach Dan Bylsma doesn't plan on treating the 24-year-old differently than any other season. Center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Sergei Gonchar are two high-profile players who have been seriously injured in past preseason games, but if Crosby is ready, Bylsma said he won't be held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons during the exhibition season.

"Sidney Crosby is not going to shy away from contact or from competitive situations when he's ready to go," Bylsma said.

Just when he will be ready to go remains to be seen.

Shero said there is no timetable for his return and expressed that his long-term health is the team's primary concern.

"The thing for me and the organization is the bigger picture with Sidney Crosby," Shero said. "Making sure that he is 100 percent and ready to play when he does come back. He's not going to be pushed to come back to practice or play. I want to make sure a year from now, three years from now, five years from now that he's still the best player in the league and take the appropriate steps, and back him, and go from there."

Expert: Crosby symptoms troubling

Dr. Julian Bailes, a concussion expert and Head of Neurosurgery at WVU School of Medicine, said the news that Crosby is still having occasional symptoms raises concern.

"I would classify it as prolonged post-concussion syndrome," Bailes said. "This has lasted for a long time. This is a severe concussion he is dealing with."

Many believe Crosby sustained two concussions during a four-day span in January, and Bailes doesn't dispute the possibility.

"I think it's a good theory," he said.

The adage that every concussion is different is something Bailes believes, making it impossible to predict just when Crosby will return to 100 percent. Diagnosing the severity of concussions, and how much recovery time is needed, remains difficult.

"It's one of the mysteries of the brain," Bailes said.

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