PITTSBURGH - To Sidney Crosby's chagrin, no one threw a bodycheck at him during practice Thursday.
The Pittsburgh Penguins captain has been cleared for contact, but it hasn't been determined when he will return to the lineup for a game as he continues to recover from a concussion suffered in January.
Next on the agenda is to find out if his body can take a hit.
"I've got to get hit at some point during practice," Crosby said, noting that the Penguins are going through a busy stretch of games that is limiting their workout time.
"I'm getting closer (to returning) and just want to make sure that I respond well to everything (during the next while) ... however long it is. We'll see how it goes in the next little bit."
The 24-year-old centre will talk with doctors before deciding to play in a game.
"It's up to how I respond to getting hit," he said. "I guess it's up to me, but we have to see when we get to that point."
Coach Dan Bylsma told the Tribune-Review that Penguins players won't be taking runs at Crosby in practice but that there will be "some jostling and hitting going on over the course of normal events."
Up until Thursday, Crosby had been wearing a white helmet at practices to indicate "no contact."
But he was on the ice in a black helmet, same as all his teammates, for the morning skate, in advance of the game between the Penguins and Washington Capitals in Pittsburgh Thursday night.
Crosby hasn't played since Jan. 5, when he took a hit from Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman. He had also absorbed a hard check to the head four days earlier from David Steckel, then of the Washington Capitals, in the Winter Classic.
Crosby battled post-concussion symptoms throughout the rest of the season and into the summer but said he has felt fine since training camp began last month.
Now it is a matter of determining whether his body can take the rough stuff.
Crosby played in just 41 games last season but led the Penguins in points with 66.