Reigning NHL MVP Sidney Crosby cleared to practice

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Looks as if Sidney Crosby is a pretty quick healer.

The Pittsburgh Penguins star and reigning NHL MVP practiced Friday, a day after the team announced he would be held out of the early portion of training camp as a precaution for an unspecified minor injury.

Crosby didn't appear hurt while taking the ice Friday morning for the team's first official workout of training camp. He didn't wear a red no-contact jersey during the 50 minutes he skated, leaving only when the team held a short 3-on-3 scrimmage.

His appearance came as a surprise after new general manager Jim Rutherford said Thursday that Crosby and forward Evgeni Malkin were going to skip the beginning of camp with unspecified injuries.

First-year coach Mike Johnston stressed he didn't expect either player to be out for a significant period of time.

Turns out, Crosby didn't miss any at all. He said the decision for him to practice was made Friday morning, and he doesn't think the injury would have caused him to miss a regular-season game.

"I'm just happy to (be out there) and hopefully we I can put a string of days here," Crosby said.

The 27-year-old said he was hurt while working out before camp, but declined to elaborate on the specifics. Johnston didn't learn Crosby would be available until shortly before camp began but was pleased with what he saw.

"I was really encouraged by the way he handled practice," Johnston said. "But like many of these things it's about how he reacts the next day."

The trainers predetermined he would only skate for a certain amount of time Friday and expects to skate Saturday if there are no setbacks overnight.

Friday's first practice under Johnston was capped by a lengthy session of wind sprints. Crosby called the session "pretty intense" near the end before he exited, but said he can't get a true read on the new coaching staff from one day.

"I think the pace was good, though," Crosby said. "I think the guys looked like they were skating well and that practice had a great pace to it. That has a lot to do with the drills and things like that too. So, that's the way we want to play and I think that's really what practice kind of indicated."

He said he could notice a tangible difference between how the players performed in this first practice as compared to years past because they are attempting to impress Johnston, who replaced the fired Dan Bylsma during the offseason.

"I think this time, everyone's just excited and eager and guys want to prove themselves. So, you expect it to be pretty intense and pretty quick early."

Crosby skated on a line with forwards Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, who was reunited with his linemates after missing the second half of last season with a torn ACL in his right knee. Dupuis wore a no-contact jersey and was occasionally spelled by Nick Spaling.

Dupuis said the team is not concerned with Crosby's health. The Penguins captain said he skated to his full ability and didn't attempt to nurse his injury, while also trying not to aggravate it.

"I went pretty hard," Crosby said. "It's just one of those things where you want to be smart."

NOTES: While Crosby did practice, Malkin did not participate. ... The team unveiled an alternate jersey on Friday that features the return of "Pittsburgh Gold," a color featured prominently in previous jersey incarnations, most notably serving as the road jersey when the franchise won consecutive Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. The Penguins will wear the jersey 12 times this year, starting on Oct. 22 when they host Philadelphia.

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