By: Chris Gates

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Penguins captain Sidney Crosby made it clear Monday that he will return no earlier than Nov. 11, as he ruled himself out of the team’s upcoming road trip to California.

The Penguins play at San Jose Thursday and Los Angeles Saturday and then go on a five-day break before Dallas visits the following Friday.

“To go through hitting is a big step,” Crosby said, according to the team’s official website. “I just want to make sure I get through that. It’s the most important thing, however long that takes. I just want to make sure it goes well and give myself the best chance to handle it.”

Crosby said he’s feeling good and that he’s been symptom-free for some time now. He said he’s trying to get in as many game situations as possible in practice to best simulate what returning to action will be like.

The biggest step is taking significant contact, which Crosby hasn’t had much of a chance to do because of the Penguins schedule to open the season. Pittsburgh played 13 games in 24 days to start the year and now — with just two games over a 12-day period — is the first legitimate opportunity for Crosby to take hits.

With so many games in such a short period of time, the team held a lot of light practices and morning skates, which don’t provide for much contact.

“Three hits,” Crosby responded when asked how much contact he’s had. “Not much, not a ton. The next few days I’ll hopefully get more. I’ve gotten practices in, but not consistently. If it was one day that’s about it, not really consistently.”

As for other Penguins injuries, forward Jordan Staal is still listed as day-to-day with a lower body leg injury. He skated separate from the team at Monday’s practice at Southpointe.

Forward Tyler Kennedy, who is dealing with a concussion, went out on the ice in shoes and shot a few pucks. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said Kennedy will have to be symptom-free before he’s able to return.

“Some of the various forms of a concussion, he’s had,” Bylsma said. “He has to be symptom free before he moves forward with that. Those symptoms are different each day. Sometimes they’re not there all day. It’s different for every day and every player sometimes.”

Forwards Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke and defenseman Kris Letang sat out of Monday’s practice.

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