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Concern is growing for Crosby's well-being

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By Josh Yohe
Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011

The more time that elapses without an update on Sidney Crosby's health — it's at 15 days and counting — the more some of his teammates are beginning to worry.

Crosby hasn't played since Dec. 5, hasn't practiced since Dec. 7 and hasn't spoken with the media since Dec. 12.

When Crosby last spoke publicly, he said that concussion symptoms surfaced following the game Dec. 5 against the Bruins.

Although Crosby has been visible at Consol Energy Center, the fact that he hasn't appeared on the ice in almost three weeks suggests it might be awhile until the face of hockey is back in action.

"I try not to get too caught up in it," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "I don't ask any questions. The team, the doctors and Sid will do what is best, health-wise."

And what if the best thing for Crosby is to stay away from hockey for a large chunk of time, even longer than his almost 11-month absence this year• What if Crosby has another concussion, and the condition is a chronic one for him?

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it," Niskanen said. "There is always that scare, guys out there like Marc Savard, who probably aren't coming back. It's always a possibility."

Coach Dan Bylsma, when asked about Crosby, simply said: "There is no an update on Sidney right now."

No one around the Penguins believes Crosby's current condition, no matter what it might be, is as severe as in January, when he suffered acute symptoms of a severe concussion.

"I see him every day," said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, one of Crosby's closest friends. "I know I want him to come back soon, to feel good, to be healthy. For him, and for his health, hopefully he does come back soon."

Crosby is the face of hockey — and of the NHL's concussion epidemic. Many terrific hockey players, including Savard to Eric Lindros, have had their careers altered or ended by concussions.

The Penguins are keeping their fingers crossed that Crosby won't suffer a similar fate.

"I don't know if any of us have thought of it in that way, yet," Niskanen said.

Right wing Pascal Dupuis, who usually plays on Crosby's wing, has received as many questions about the team's captain as anyone.

He is concerned about Crosby, but he prefers to focus on the remainder of the team.

"We have a guy right now who is on top of the game," Dupuis said, referring to center Evgeni Malkin. "You've got the big deal, James Neal, putting the puck in the net. You've got Kuny (left wing Chris Kunitz) helping Geno on that line. We're doing a lot of really good things."

Notes: Injured defenseman Paul Martin, center Richard Park and center Dustin Jeffrey all skated before the Penguins practiced Monday at Southpointe. ... Defenseman Kris Letang remains out of the lineup with a concussion that he suffered Nov. 26 in Montreal. Bylsma said there is nothing new to report on Letang's health. There was also no update given on defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (concussion).

Crosby timeline

Nov. 21 — Crosby produces four points in his first game in almost 11 months.

Dec. 5 — Crosby is held without a point against the physical Bruins in a 3-1 loss.

Dec. 6 — Crosby does not participate in an optional practice.

Dec. 7 — Crosby practices, said he will play against the Flyers; .Penguins land in Philadelphia, then release a statement that Crosby won't play in the upcoming two games

Dec. 12 — Crosby said he is dealing with concussion symptoms and is ruled out indefinitely.

Dec. 17 — The Penguins place Crosby on injured reserve so that another roster spot becomes available.

Dec. 26 — Coach Dan Bylsma said there is no update regarding Crosby's status.

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