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So is there still time for Sidney Crosby(notes) to rally in the Hart Trophy race?

In what was understandably front-page news on the Pittsburgh Penguins website Monday morning, the injured captain skated at CONSOL Energy Center in full gear for the first time since he was diagnosed with a concussion and shut down on Jan. 6. Since then, his injury ignited a hockey-wide debate about player safety and some preposterous scuttlebutt about his future.

(The cynical reading of this return Monday: Does it have anything to do with the GMs meeting about player safety in Florida or his family having to deny retirement rumors over the weekend?)

Oh, and the Penguins went 14-10-5 without him (and Evgeni Malkin(notes) since Feb. 4) to remain three points off the Eastern Conference lead of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sid had 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) in 41 games before his injury. (Revisit the two hits that concussed him and his comments about his diagnosis here.)

Crosby skated for about 15 minutes according to the Penguins, stick-handling around cones and shooting the puck. This comes after his using the shooting gallery in the Penguins dressing room over the weekend.

His return to the rink would indicate (a) he's been symptom free long enough to allow it and (b) that the Penguins feel comfortable enough in his health to publicize it.

Crosby spoke with the Penguins website about the practice skate:

Crosby, who last played for the Penguins Jan. 5 vs. Tampa Bay, said that he hasn't had any concussion-like symptoms for a few days. He's been riding an exercise bike and Monday was his first opportunity to get back on the ice, although he cautioned that he may not even be able to skate Tuesday.

"I may not feel great this afternoon and not be able to skate tomorrow," Crosby said. "The only reason I was able to skate today is because I've had some good days here, done a little bit of exercise and got through that. That doesn't mean there are any guarantees. It's just a progression.

"I've been symptom free the last few days. That doesn't mean that when I exert myself that I won't have symptoms. That could always happen. That's pretty normal when you have that. It's a process and we'll see how things go."

Here's a full Q&A with Crosby, including the fact he has "no clue" if he'll play again this season. Thanks to reader Mike Mancini for the tip.

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