Road getting clearer for Crosby

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby smiles at a reporter's question during a news conference at...

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby smiles at a reporter's question during a news conference at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 7, 2011. (REUTERS/Jason Cohn)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:35 PM ET

PITTSBURGH - The NHL is a league that needs some good news these days.

It got some Friday.

Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby has the green light to be on the ice with his teammates Saturday when the Penguins open the on-ice portion of training camp -- although Crosby, who was concussed in January, still hasn't been cleared for contact.

The Penguins have been divided into three groups for camp. Two of them will scrimmage each day and Crosby will practise with the group that doesn't scrimmage on any given day.

"I'm cleared to practise without contact. That's good news for me and I'm excited to get going," Crosby said as the Penguins gathered at the Consol Energy Center for physicals and fitness testing Friday.

There still isn't any timeline for Crosby to resume contact and he still has to see how he reacts if he gets his exertion rate above the 90% level.

Crosby had to alter his workouts a few weeks ago after his post-concussion symptoms returned when he got to that 90% level in workouts.

Crosby said he like he has made progress recently.

"Whatever symptoms I've had have been pretty minimal, so to get cleared for this is good," he said.

Like everybody else, he's interested to see how he will handle the pace.

"I don't want to put a percentage on it. It's hard to say what I've actually gone to, but I feel like I've done pretty good tests of exertion at different points and responded pretty well. I think the main thing is I feel pretty comfortable and confident with where I'm at in camp here," he said.

"I think camp will be a pretty good indication (of progress). It's going to be pretty intense. Even without contact, I'm sure it will be a pretty good pace. I'll see how things go then."

Seeing Crosby on the ice with his teammates leading up to camp put a smile on the face of Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. He has been impressed with what he has seen of Crosby in informal workouts.

"I think he's doing well, doing better and when you see him on the ice participating, you're going to see a guy who looks a lot like Sidney Crosby looks on the ice," he said. "He's a talented player and you can see it when he steps on the ice. That's a positive thing."

Crosby said he's looking forward to being back in a routine. Training camp is typically something that is endured by veterans, a necessary evil, but after all he has been through, this camp is a welcome event, not just for Crosby, but for the Penguins and the NHL.

"I'm just excited to get out there," Crosby said. "I don't know about special. I think I'm just excited to be with the guys and practise with the team, prepare and go through all the fun stuff of being a hockey player. As challenging as it is, as tough as it is, that's why you play the game is to go through this process. I'm happy to be a part of it, but I also know I have some work to do. Keeping all those things in mind, I'm just excited to get going."

It all sounds encouraging and certainly seeing Crosby on the ice again will be a welcome image for the league.

This is a positive step, no doubt, but the real breakthrough will be Crosby being able to practise at 100% and still have a clear head.

Hopefully that day isn't too far away.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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