Penguins’ Crosby Cleared for Contact Practice After Concussion

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who has been benched since Dec. 6 with concussion-like symptoms and a neck injury, has been cleared to resume full-contact practice, the National Hockey League team said.

Crosby has been symptom-free for a few days and will practice before a decision is made on his return to the lineup, the team said on its website.

“Contact is the big step,” Crosby said. “It’s nice to be symptom free, but it’s not as fulfilling until you get out there. I just want to make sure that I take the right steps here and get back out there soon.”

Crosby, 24, had been skating with teammates sporadically without contact since Feb. 6. He was on the ice in a full-contact practice yesterday.

“As soon as they knew I could get contact I was getting a lot of bumps,” Crosby said. “It was fun to be out there with them and hopefully it’s a regular occurrence.”

Crosby sustained head injuries in last year’s Jan. 1 Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals and again four days later against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He missed the rest of the 2010-11 season.

Crosby returned to the ice this season for eight games until he was sidelined when concussion-like symptoms returned during a game against Boston on Dec. 5.

He was the first pick of the 2005 draft, and two years later won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player at the age of 19, the youngest to get the honor.

He also scored the gold medal-winning goal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, lifting Canada over the U.S. in overtime.

The Penguins (39-21-5) are eight points behind the first-place New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference.

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