By Brian Tinsman

Update: Sidney Crosby won’t play in the season opener against the Capitals, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan announced Wednesday.

WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals’ chances of winning their road opener in Pittsburgh just got better, but the game will almost certainly be less entertaining without Sidney Crosby on the ice.

The two-time NHL MVP was diagnosed with a concussion on Monday, and word from the Penguins indicates he is unlikely to be available vs. the Caps on Thursday night.

At this point, his playing status is still unknown.

“It is what it is,” Pens head coach Mike Sullivan told the media. “Injuries are a part of our game. Part of the challenge is for us to help ‘Sid’ get healthy as quickly as possible. That’s what we’re going to do. We don’t look at it any other way. For me, frustration at this point is a useless emotion.”

“We don’t look at it any other way. For me, frustration at this point is a useless emotion.”

If the Pens begin their Stanley Cup title defense without Crosby, they will be missing a team captain who has been the face of the franchise since his Rookie of the Year honors a decade ago.

“He’s our leader. When he’s in the room or on the ice it changes a lot of things,” linemate Conor Sheary told the media. “We know that we’ve had guys step up in big situations before and we have that confidence again this year. If everyone sticks to their own game, we know we’re good enough to win.”

Crosby participated in the World Cup of Hockey, where his native Canada won gold vs. Europe. He was the tournament’s leading scorer and MVP, months after winning the same honors in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On Friday, in only his second practice since returning to the Pens, Crosby sustained his concussion. He was held out of the team’s preseason finale on Saturday and put through concussion protocol on Monday.

“Our medical staff will take the appropriate measures moving forward,” Sullivan said. “We take all of the concussions that our players are afflicted with seriously.

“Our medical staff follows strict guidelines. There is a certain protocol. That’s how our team operates. We always have our players’ best interests and health as the priority. Regardless of who the player is; that’s how we feel.”

This is a particularly troubling injury for the Pens, not just because of his ability and leadership, but also his history with this injury. Between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Crosby missed 61 consecutive games with head and neck injuries that threatened to derail his career.

He has since fully recovered, but concussions can have a cumulative effect.

“He’s obviously an important player for us, but our team has dealt with injuries in the past to some of our key players,” Sullivan said. “In instances where some of our players go down with injuries it presents opportunities for others to step up.

“That’s just the nature of our business. We’re fortunate we have the depth that we have.”


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