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Sidney Crosby speaks; agent says he’ll play ‘when symptom free’

Sidney Crosby's(notes) status for the 2011-12 NHL season has tumbled around the rumor mill for the last two weeks; beginning with an XM Home Ice report that he'd miss the start of the season, continuing with a CTV Atlantic report his training had been interrupted with post-concussion symptoms, and continuing with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review calling Crosby's silence on his status "indefensible."

There have even been calls for Crosby to retire for the sake of his health.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Crosby's agent did damage control at every turn, claiming Crosby had battled symptoms but downplaying the dire predictions about missing the start of the season. On Wednesday night, they went on offense with a story on the Penguins' website — and Sidney Crosby's first public comments on his rehab in weeks.

From the Penguins:

"I appreciate all the support I've received from my family, friends, teammates and fans and from the entire Penguins organization," Crosby said. "I know they only want the best for my health, and for me to be fully ready when I return to game action."

"We always knew this was going to be a progressive recovery — based on how he felt," said Pat Brisson, Crosby's agent. "With a concussion, there is not a finite recovery period like with a shoulder injury or a knee injury. That's why we've never even set a specific goal for a return date like the start of training camp or Oct. 1 or anything else. He will play when he is symptom free."

The Penguins confirmed in the story that Crosby has visited concussion specialists in Michigan and Georgia, who concluded that he will "make a full recovery." The bad news:

When he got to 90 percent exertion in his workouts, however, he started having some headaches again. At that point, his doctors and trainers altered his workouts accordingly.

This is essentially what the team and Brisson have been preaching for weeks, stopping short from saying the Crosby had been "shut down."

That said, this story needed Crosby to speak, and Crosby needed this declarative, official statement to attempt to clear the air. Yes, there's a chance he'll miss camp or not be ready by October 1. There's also a chance he won't. What's clear is that he has a desire to work through this and return to hockey, which hopefully puts the hyperbolic "hang up the skates Kid" talk to rest.

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