Sidney Crosby was playing the best hockey of his life. Now his extraordinary year is on hold and no one is sure when he will be back on the ice.
The Penguins said Monday that their superstar center has been diagnosed with at least his third concussion, just a few days before defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh opens its season.
Crosby has been in dominant form. He finished as a Hart Trophy finalist as league MVP, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP and led Canada to the World Cup title just a few months after winning his second Cup with the Penguins.
His short- and long-term future is in doubt as concussions have dogged him for six years.
Coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby was concussed Friday in practice and that there was no timetable for his return. The diagnosis came as the Penguins prepare to raise their championship banner Thursday before a home game against Washington. Pittsburgh eliminated the Lightning in the Eastern Conference final then San Jose in the Cup final.
Sullivan declined to reveal how the concussion happened. General manager Jim Rutherford said Crosby, 29, was held out of Saturday's preseason finale against Columbus because he didn't feel well and didn't practice Monday for concussion testing.
"Our medical staff will take the appropriate measures moving forward," Sullivan said.
Crosby took blows to the head at the 2011 Winter Classic and in his next game that year, Jan. 5 against the Lightning. He was out until November, the a hit Dec. 5 knocked him out until March. A broken jaw ended his lockout-shortened 2013 season.
The NHL upgraded its concussion policies for this season, giving spotters authority to remove players from the game if there are visible symptoms. That would not have helped Crosby in this situation.
Gudas suspended: The league suspended Philadelphia's Radko Gudas, a former Lightning defenseman, for six games for a shoulder-to-head hit on Boston's Austin Czarnik in a preseason game on Saturday.
Avalanche: Forwards Gabriel Bourque and Rene Bourque signed one-year deals after being invited to camp on a tryout. Gabriel Bourque's deal is two-way, so he still must clear waivers. The Bourques are not related.
Flames: Johnny Gaudreau agreed to a six-year extension. The forward's $40.5 million deal has an annual salary cap hit of $6.75 million.
Other moves: The Jets waived goaltender Ondrej Pavelec with the intent of sending him to the AHL. … The Islanders waived forward PA Parenteau three months after signing him to a $1.25 million, one-year contract.