The Washington Times - March 15, 2012, 06:51PM

Sidney Crosby returned to game action Thursday night in the brightest of spotlights, facing the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Pittsburgh Penguins star and face of the NHL missed 10½ months with post-concussion symptoms from January to November and then another three from December until now.

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom knows all about that and doesn’t want it to be him. That’s why he’s not rushing back from his concussion.

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“That’s something I don’t want to do, I don’t want to see happen,” Backstrom said. “I couldn’t understand his injury before I got one. It’s frustrating, but at the same time, you’ve got to be careful. Your head is very important for the rest of your life. Right now I can tell that I feel good and hopefully I won’t be in the same situation.”

Crosby’s situation is a warning sign for any hockey player with a concussion. So is David Perron‘s. The St. Louis Blues forward missed 97 games over 13 months before returning earlier this season.

Cautionary tales also include Jay Beagle, the gritty Caps forward who missed 31 games earlier this year after getting concussed in an October fight with Arron Asham of the Penguins.

Beagle, like Backstrom, suffered a setback after trying to skate. Backstrom was on the ice for five minutes Jan. 23 but did not go back out there at the Caps’ practice facility until this week.

What happens next for Backstrom, who has skated three days in a row now, remains to be seen. He deferred to trainer Greg Smith, but he said Thursday there’s no hurry.

“We’re probably going to see what’s happening, but I’m going to take it slow, I think and see. I’m not going to rush back,” Backstrom said. “As you guys know, it takes time. That’s what guys keep telling me all the time.”