This April 13, 2011 file photo shows Pittsburgh Penguins\' Sidney Crosby during NHL hockey practice in Pittsburgh. Crosby\'s summer vacation is almost over, but there\'s no telling when the Pittsburgh Penguins star will return to work. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ AP - Gene J. Puskar
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Sidney Crosby's summer vacation is almost over. Still, there's no telling when the Pittsburgh Penguins star will return to work.
General manager Ray Shero said Monday the former MVP is still dealing with concussion-like symptoms and it's too soon to know if Crosby will be available when the Penguins open camp next month.
"There's no expectation from me that he won't be ready or he will be ready," Shero said.
Crosby hasn't played in a game since Jan. 5, missing the rest of the regular season and Pittsburgh's first-round playoff loss to Tampa Bay as he slowly recovered from a concussion. He said in April he would be back for training camp, but with about a month to go before the team reports, Shero wouldn't guarantee No. 87 will be in uniform.
The 24-year-old Crosby has spent the summer at home in Nova Scotia working out on his own. Shero doesn't anticipate Crosby returning to Pittsburgh until a week before camp begins. Crosby will undergo a thorough evaluation before he's cleared to participate in full-contact drills.
"He won't be pushed to come back," Shero said.
Though Shero acknowledged Crosby has dealt with lingering symptoms "off and on" over the summer they have not prevented him from shutting down his workout program.
"The good news is he continues to work out, he's worked out hard during the summer," Shero said. "We'll see where we are come training camp."
Coach Dan Bylsma doesn't think the team will need to treat Crosby with kid gloves whenever he's cleared. Bylsma doesn't anticipate holding Crosby out of the pre-season if his superstar has been OK'd by doctors.
"I don't think when Sidney Crosby is healthy and ready to go, he's not going to shy away from contact, nor is he going to shy away from competition," Bylsma said. "It would take quite a bit to keep him out of getting ready for the start of the regular season."
Crosby was in the midst of an MVP-type season before the injury, amassing 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) in 41 games. He sustained hits in consecutive games in early January before being diagnosed with the concussion. He flirted with returning during the playoffs before a series of setbacks kept him off the ice.
Both Shero and Bylsma have been in frequent contact with Crosby since the season ended, with Shero saying most of their discussions have centred on the team, not Crosby's health.
Shero senses Crosby's frustration and doesn't think setting an arbitrary deadline for his return would do anybody any good.
"I want him to feel good about himself," Shero said. "He'll be back at some point to play hockey."