Crosby skated with his teammates for more than an hour Friday in the latest step in his recovery from surgery in early September. The team announced at the time of the procedure that Crosby would miss a minimum of six weeks. The six-week mark passed on Wednesday with Crosby still inching his way back.
The three-time Stanley Cup winner has been dealing with pain in the wrist off and on since shortly after the 2014 Olympics. He initially hoped offseason rest would give it time to heal properly, a strategy that worked for him during previous summers. But as training camp for the 2021-22 season loomed with symptoms still lingering, he opted to have surgery in hopes of fixing the problem for good.
"So I think we all felt like it was something I wouldn't have got through this season if I didn't take care of it," Crosby said. "Unfortunately end up missing some time here early, but I guess the other side of that was missing a lot more games, probably, in the middle of the year."
Crosby called surgery the "last resort," but felt it became unavoidable this time around. He said the procedure was different from the arthroscopic surgery he had on the wrist on Aug. 31, 2020.
"It was something I was able to manage [for years]," he said. "There were points where it bugged me more than others. You just get used to it. ... It became more and more of a factor last year and then into the summer. Just had to take care of it."
The next part of Crosby's recovery will be figuring out when the wrist is good enough to handle a heavy load of faceoffs. He typically takes 20 to 25 a game, a movement that can put a lot of pressure on the joint.
"I haven't really had any force, whether it's faceoff, lifting sticks ... battling, pushing around," he said. "Those are things I haven't been able to do. When I'm able to do that comfortably or do it without pain or being able to manage those things, I think that'll be a big step."
Crosby, who turned 34 in August, does not expect to need surgery on the wrist again.
The Penguins have gotten off to a solid start without Crosby and longtime star Evgeni Malkin, who is recovering from knee surgery. The Penguins are 2-0-2 heading into Saturday night's visit from Toronto.
"We're just, I mean everyone is playing the same way," Crosby said. "Every line that goes out there over the boards is playing hard. We're playing fast. We're not giving teams a lot of time and space."
Crosby and Malkin are hardly the only Penguins players banged up. Forward Bryan Rust is "week to week" with a lower-body injury. Veteran center Jeff Carter, who has filled in for Crosby as the first-line center, will miss Saturday night's visit by the Maple Leafs after testing positive for COVID-19.
Coach Mike Sullivan said Friday that Carter is asymptomatic but will be unavailable against Toronto. The team did receive a bit of good news Friday when it turned out that top goaltender Tristan Jarry had a "false positive" COVID test on Thursday, freeing up his return to practice.