Pittsburgh Penguins\' Sidney Crosby gets set for a face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Jan.5, 2011. Crosby says he expects to play this season after suffering a concussion, but there are no guarantees he\'ll be able to make a comeback. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Gene J. Puskar
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Penguins captain Sidney Crosby says he expects to play this season after suffering a concussion, but there are no guarantees he'll be able to make a comeback.
Crosby visited the Penguins during Thursday's morning skate for the first time since leaving the team last week to visit his parents in Cole Harbour, N.S.
"I hope I'm back and I hope I play this year," Crosby said. "That's the thing with (concussions), you don't know."
Like any player returning from a serious head injury, Crosby is frustrated by the slow pace of recovery.
"It's out of my control," he said. "You just hope with time, the quicker the better."
Crosby has missed 14 games for the Penguins with complications due to a concussion. He will not be allowed to return to the ice until he is symptom-free. He still leads the team with 32 goals and 66 points, and is fourth in the league in scoring.
Crosby, 23, said he left to get away, relax and not deal with the stresses that come with talking about his injury. He said it's impossible to know when he'll be able to play again, and that he's just focusing on getting better.
Crosby was sidelined after taking hits to the head in successive games Jan. 1 against Washington in the Winter Classic and Jan. 5 against Tampa Bay. And he's not alone on the injury front.
Centre Evgeni Malkin, scheduled for season-ending knee surgery on Thursday, won't be back until September. Center Mark Letestu is out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury that also required surgery. And the Penguins will also play the next four games without left wing Matt Cooke, serving a suspension brought down by the NHL on Wednesday.
To fill the lineup, the Penguins recalled four players from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, forwards Ryan Craig, Nick Johnson, Brett Sterling and Joe Vitale.
The Penguins play host to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, before a two-game swing through New York, facing the Islanders on Friday, and the Rangers on Sunday.