Sidney Crosby says he's progressing

Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, out with a concussion since Jan. 6, says he has made progress, and that he hasn't ruled out the All-Star Game.

Crosby also denied a report in the Toronto Globe and Mail, which said that according to a source, Crosby was fuming about the league's lack of progress in protecting its players, and possibly would withdraw from the Jan. 30 game in protest.

"That's not even close [to accurate]," Crosby said Tuesday in Pittsburgh. " ... [I] still haven't ruled out being there. Hopefully, in the next few days things get better. There's a slight chance I can still be back for that. That's what I'm hoping. If I can be there, I'll be there."

Pat Brisson, Crosby's agent, also refuted the report, telling ESPN.com Tuesday morning, "He hasn't told me anything like that ... Of course he's angry that he's hurt. But we've never even discussed the All-Star Game."

Crosby absorbed a blindside hit to the head from Capitals forward
David Steckel during the Jan. 1 Winter Classic outdoor game, and said he
initially felt only neck soreness. He felt worse by Jan. 5, but played that night against Tampa Bay, during which he was driven
into the boards headfirst by Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.

Neither player was suspended or fined. Crosby has not been able to play since, and he will not take the ice, even to practice, until he's symptom-free. If he is not healed, the Penguins most certainly will not allow him to play in the All-Star Game, which is in Raleigh, N.C., this year.

Crosby, who will not go on the ice even for practice until his post-concussion symptoms subside, said Tuesday that he still has headaches, though he believes he's gotten better, especially in the past week.

"Some days you feel good. You feel like you've made progress. Some days are a little bit tougher," said Crosby, who added that he also is not active off the ice at this point. He did make an appearance to sign autographs Monday night at the team's annual charity bowling event.

Crosby's father, Troy Crosby, declined comment in an e-mail to ESPN.com.

NHL executive Brendan Shanahan, who is in charge of the All-Star festivities, said he spoke with Crosby on the phone Monday and didn't get the sense at all that the Penguins' captain was angry.

"Sidney let me know that if there was anything he could do for [the] All-Star [Game] to let him know," Shanahan told ESPN.com. "He had a great attitude about the whole thing. But the majority of our conversation was more about concussions and our personal experiences."

Crosby was not able to play in the 2009 All-Star Game, which was in Montreal, because of a sore left knee, but he did attend that weekend's festivities.

On Jan. 8, Crosby spoke during routine media availability, and expressed his displeasure at both the hits, and the fact neither player was punished.

"You talk about head shots and dealing with them, and that's been something that's been pretty big points of interest with everybody -- GMs and players," Crosby said. "When I look at those two hits ... I mean, we talk about blindside, and that's a big word -- unsuspecting player, there's no puck there, and direct hit to the head on both of them. If you want to go through the criteria, I think they fit all those.

"I know it's a fast game, and I think if anybody understands it's a fast game -- I've been hit a thousand times," he said. "But when you get hit like that, there's nothing you can do. There's no way you can protect yourself. Those are things that hopefully [the NHL] pays more attention to."

If Crosby doesn't return until after the All-Star Game, he would miss at least nine games. However, he would get an extra week of rest without sitting out any games because the Penguins don't play after their Jan. 25 game against the Islanders until they meet the Rangers on Feb. 1.

Coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby has spent so much time watching the game and discussing power-play strategy since he's been out, he jokingly suggested Crosby put on a suit and stand behind the bench.

"I've remarked several times," Bylsma said, "about how he's alert, normal and thinking about the game and helping out the coaching staff."

Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun and The Associated Press was used in this report.