Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby skated on Monday for the first time since being sidelined by a concussion in early January.
The Penguins' captain skated in full gear for about 15 minutes at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center. He took some shots and stick-handled around some cones on the ice. While he admitted he felt better, he said there was still no time frame for his return.
"I have no clue," Crosby said. "I'm not thinking too far ahead as far as a time frame. I just want to get better. This is part of the way to do that. I'm just kind of taking that step and seeing how it goes."
He was asked if he will be able to return to play this season.
"That's impossible to say," answered Crosby. "It's progress. I'm nowhere close to (playing). I just want to get through today without getting a headache, let alone about my conditioning.
"I'm not thinking too far ahead as far as a time frame," Crosby explained. "I just want to get better. This is part of the way to do that. I'm just kind of taking that step and seeing how it goes."
He admitted that not being able to help his team down the stretch has been extremely frustrating, however he realizes that it's best for his long-term future to take the cautious route.
"Yeah, it's frustrating, but at the same time when you go through all those things, I think the most important thing is that you just feel normal and you're able to do things and work out -- just do things that every day you're usually able to do as a hockey player," said Crosby.
"I realize that it's a process, but it's a step in the right direction. It doesn't mean that today I won't have symptoms, and I'll have to kind of step back a bit. That could happen too, so I think I'm pretty realistic about everything."
While it had been speculated that Crosby had considered retirement, he quickly quashed those rumours with a simple one-word answer.
"No," he said.
Crosby has missed 29 games since being hit head-first into the boards by Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman on Jan. 5. Crosby also suffered a blind-side hit during the Winter Classic against Washington on Jan. 1, but experienced no concussion-like symptoms at that time and was allowed to continue playing.
The 23-year-old was leading the league in scoring at the time of the injury with 32 goals and 34 assists in 41 games. He was also forced to miss the All-Star Game despite being voted in as a starter by fan balloting.
"I've had some good days here the last few, and I was able to get on a bike and exercise a bit. I didn't have any symptoms doing that," Crosby told reporters. "I was given the opportunity to skate, the doctors said I could give it a try and see how I feel. So I did that today, and we'll see moving forward how it goes."
Crosby also shared his opinion on the rash of apparently deliberate headshots that have become commonplace in the NHL.
"You're not going to lose anything from the game if you take (deliberate headshots) away. I don't think you're going to lose anything at all. I mean, if a guy has enough time to line someone up, then he's got enough time to decide whether he can hit him in the head or not," said Crosby. "I think that's pretty realistic. But it's whether or not it's intentional, sometimes that's tough to really know when you're talking about a fast game like hockey. So that's something they have to discuss. The easy answer is yes, but it's just finding out how to do it the right way so that you still have that physical element but at the same time, guys are a little bit safer too."
The Penguins have also been without fellow star forward Evgeni Malkin, who is out for the season after undergoing ACL and MCL surgery in February.
Pittsburgh is 14-10-5 without Crosby in the line-up this season, and 11-8-4 without both Crosby and Malkin.
Crosby said that he was impressed at how the team has been able to play despite missing their two former Art Ross Trophy winners.
"I've been here every day, and I've been around the guys. It's been pretty amazing to see the amount of character we have," said Crosby. "I think with all the adversity we've had, the guys have really done an unbelievable job of just focusing on what they have to do out there.
"They've been resilient, and that's something that says a lot about our team."