PITTSBURGH (AP) — Sidney Crosby isn't just dealing with the lingering effects of a concussion. A California doctor says the Pittsburgh Penguins' star also is recovering from a neck injury.
And Crosby's agent, Pat Brisson, said he can't rule out the possibility that the injury could be to his vertebrae.
"There's been speculation that I really can't comment on at this point," Brisson said Saturday night at the All-Star game skills competition in Ottawa. "I can't rule it out. I don't know. I'm not a radiologist."
Brisson also said he didn't consider the findings to be a setback.
Crosby visited with neurological spine specialist Dr. Robert S. Bray in Los Angeles this week as he continues treatment for symptoms that resurfaced during a loss to Boston on Dec. 5.
The 2009 league MVP missed more than 10 months after sustaining head shots in consecutive games in early January 2011. He returned on Nov. 21 and had 12 points in eight games before the symptoms resurfaced following a physical game against the Bruins.
The team says Bray found Crosby did have a concussion after taking shots to the head in successive games last January. Bray also discovered an unspecified neck injury, though Bray told the team the neck injury is "fully healed."
The team said Bray's findings will be evaluated by independent specialists.
General manager Ray Shero said at the All-Star game in Ottawa that Crosby had returned from California and that he was "optimistic" Crosby will play again this season.
"He's back in Pittsburgh now, hopefully we'll see next week where he is and we'll get the reports from California and compare notes to what's been done so far," Shero said.
Brisson said Crosby both looked and felt good while skating on his own last week, but there's no timetable as to when the player might be ready to play.
"Sidney's doing his best to be back playing as quick as he can and first of all safe," Brisson said. "His goal is to play hockey, and he'll play. The sooner the better."
The Canadian web site sportsnet.ca, citing unidentified sources, reported Crosby visited with a doctor in Utah, where an MRI revealed an abnormality in two vertebrae in Crosby's neck.
The 24-year-old Crosby acknowledged earlier this month he was still experiencing headaches and motion problems. He traveled to Atlanta recently to visit with Dr. Ted Carrick, a chiropractic neurologist who successfully treated Crosby last summer.
Crosby has been cleared for light exercise and skated with his teammates during a road trip through Florida two weeks ago.
The Penguins entered the All-Star break on a seven-game winning streak. Pittsburgh returns to practice Monday and will host Toronto on Tuesday night.
The team has stressed Crosby will not play until he is ready.
"The thing with Sidney is we want to continue to look to see how we can get this under control and manageable so he can return to play," Shero said. "As I said before he's not (playing) until those symptoms resolve but hopefully have him back at some point here soon."
AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Ottawa contributed to this report.