A quick update after the Penguins returned to practice Wednesday at Consol Energy Center:
= C Sidney Crosby did not speak, but coach Dan Bylsma reiterated there is “no timetable, no date” set for his return to NHL games. Crosby appeared irritated at a group of reporters, which included representatives from national outlets such as TSN and ESPN, gathered at his locker stall waiting for him to address his status. Later, though, he jovially chatted up a couple of the national reporters.
His sense of irritation, presumably, is the on-going speculation about when he will return from a concussion that has kept him from playing since Jan. 5. A lot of people, fans included, have pinpointed Friday as his return.
Crosby, speaking on that very topic Monday, did not dismiss the possibility of a Friday return. However, having been involved in that interview session, I can offer that he was in no way suggesting that a Friday return was likely.
Also, the moves made Tuesday by the Penguins, which included the rehab assignment of C Dustin Jeffrey and the trade of C Mark Letestu, sparked instant social-media speculation that Crosby was set to return Friday.
Speaking specifically about the Letestu trade, GM Ray Shero said Tuesday night that it “has nothing to do with Sid.”
Again, for those who missed it, the only thing I’ve heard from people close to this situation is that the least ideal situation if for Crosby to return in a back-to-back games situation. The Penguins play at home Friday against Dallas and at Carolina on Saturday.
Crosby may not speak publicly – to the media, basically – until there is an update on his status, a senior member of Shero’s hockey operations staff said today.
= Bylsma said D Ben Lovejoy (wrist) will miss at least six weeks then be re-evaluated after his casting is removed. That is a tough blow for the Penguins, who are also down D Zbynek Michalek (finger) for a least a couple of weeks. Lovejoy was injured last Thursday at San Jose.
= RW Tyler Kennedy worked practice on a line with C Jordan Staal and LW Chris Kunitz. Kennedy said a return for games this weekend is unlikely. He is out with a concussion.
“I’m still trying to get in a little bit better shape,” Kennedy said, adding that he is symptom free. “Your brain is the most important thing in your body and you’ve got to take everything more serious, take more precautions.
“I didn’t do much at all, just sat around. You always say it’s a mental battle when you get hurt, and with a concussion it definitely is.”
= LW Steve Sullivan playfully withheld details of the club’s two-day bonding trip, but he did note that it included players’ wives and significant others.
“You get to learn a lot from the guys… a little more about the person, something that you would just learn over time being on a lot of road trips,” he said. “It just kind of crams it into a 24-hour period.
“We’ve been on the road so much at the start of the year that it just kind of magnified what I already knew of the guys. This is a really close-knit group. There is a lot of leadership here. I got to see it just a little bit more.”
= Lines and defense pairings, for those who care: