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Neither are the Penguins. Bylsma will welcome Crosby back whenever he’s cleared. If it’s not until 2012, so what? The season is long and Crosby’s long-term health is the team’s biggest concern.

“He wants to get back and get to a high level and help our team be a team that competes for the Stanley Cup,” Bylsma said.

Crosby’s teammates can sense his frustration. They also understand he’s no savior. Provided they stay healthy, they’re plenty loaded even if he doesn’t play.

The anxiety over Crosby’s health is greater outside the locker room than it is inside. They know he wants to play. They also know there’s no sense in pushing it.

“It’s really out of our control,” Jordan Staal said. “There’s not much you can do. You can focus on what you need to do and what this team needs to do to get ready with or without Sid. Obviously we’d love to have him back but he needs to take his time and he’ll do the right thing when he’s ready to play.”

Though Crosby has worked with a team of doctors during his recovery, he insists the decision on when he can start full-contact practices will come from Pittsburgh team physician Dr. Charles Burke.

“At the end of the day he’s the one that’s got to clear me to play,” Crosby said. “There’s constant communication and everyone will be well aware of everything before each step is made.”