WASHINGTON, Oct 9, 2021 (AFP) – Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby returned to practice with the National Hockey League club on Saturday for the first time since undergoing left wrist surgery on September 8.
But the 34-year-old Canadian center was not listed on the roster for a final pre-season game against Columbus and is questionable at best for Tuesday’s NHL season opener at reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay.
“He is on schedule. And it does indicate progress,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
“That’s obviously his first practice joining the group. I would anticipate more of that moving forward. We’re real encouraged by the progress he has made to this point.
“He’s in terrific shape. He has been working real hard.”
Crosby, a three-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time NHL Most Valuable Player, led the Penguins with 24 goals and 38 assists last season but managed only one goal in Pittsburgh’s first-round playoff loss to the New York Islanders.
Crosby was expected to need at least six weeks to recover from the operation, a timetable that would cause him to miss at least the opening week of the 2021-22 campaign.
Sullivan said he expects Crosby will travel with the team to Florida, but that would likely be only for workouts and not to play against the Lightning on Thursday at Florida.
The Penguins also lack second-line center Evgeni Malkin, expected to be sidelined until at least mid-December after knee surgery in June.
Crosby’s usual top-line center spot was manned by Jeff Carter in practice.