- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Sidney Crosby remains confident he’ll play hockey again.

When remains a mystery.

The Pittsburgh Penguins star said Wednesday he’s continuing to recover from concussion-like symptoms that have sidelined him since last January, adding it’s “likely” he’ll return to play this season.

Yet the 24-year-old former MVP remains adamant he won’t don his familiar No. 87 jersey until he’s back at full strength.

“Maybe I can get by with 90 percent, maybe I couldn’t but I’m not going to roll the dice with that,” he said.

Flanked by Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero and the two doctors who have carefully monitored his progress after sustaining blows to the head in consecutive games nine months ago, Crosby shot down speculation he’s considering retirement.

While acknowledging there’s a “slight chance” he may never play again, Crosby quickly added “I wouldn’t bet on that.”

Guessing when arguably the game’s greatest player will consider himself at full speed is an equally risky proposition.

Dr. Michael Collins likened Crosby to a Ferrari. Sure, Crosby can go out and skate. He just can’t do the things he wants to do without experiencing a recurrence of the issues that have plagued him since January.

“Sid’s 100 percent is different than anybody else’s,” Collins said.

Crosby’s symptoms have included “fogginess” that at times made it difficult for him to drive or watch television. He’s also endured painful migraines and likened the recovery process to a roller coaster. The good days far outnumber the bad ones, but the bad ones aren’t gone completely.

“I’m lucky,” Crosby said. “I feel like I’m in pretty good shape and on the right end of this right now.”

Doctors don’t anticipate the symptoms having any long-term effect on his day-to-day life, with Dr. Ted Carrick calling it “Christmas for Sid Crosby and the people that care for him.”

The true test of his hockey future won’t be determined until he gets hit for the first time in a real game. That will likely be months considering it’s still uncertain when he can begin practicing with his teammates.

“We’re going to introduce contact with Sid very carefully,” Collins said, “and we’re not even close to that.”

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