Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on against the...

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. (Nov. 6, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Sidney Crosby may be the Rangers' archenemy, an opponent so troublesome that he engenders hate -- or, at the least, jealous rage -- in the Madison Square Garden crowd.

But the Penguins' captain -- that 'C' on his sweater is not for "concussion," though that would have applied for a long time -- is not without empathy for Rangers who have dealt with similar head injuries.

Crosby may be the architect of disorientation, dizzying rivals with his puck-handling legerdemain and skating brilliance. But, as a member of the Brotherhood of the Dazed -- having missed virtually an entire year with concussion symptoms -- he knows what it's like to be under medical house arrest for weeks and months at a time.

So, despite his usual role Wednesday night as villain -- the passion drained a bit by Crosby's failure to score during the Rangers' 5-1 victory -- Crosby happens to have been quick to reach out to Rangers forward Rick Nash after the still-disabled Nash took a shot to the head from San Jose's Brad Stuart last month.

"Just texted a little bit," Crosby said, "to see how he's doing. Playing in the Olympics, I got to know him, and I know he went through something like that last year."

Crosby likewise had checked with Rangers defenseman Marc Staal during Staal's long recovery from concussion issues in 2011. And, during his own January 2011 to March 2012 recovery, Crosby sought out another concussion victim, Boston's Patrice Bergeron.

These days, Crosby said, "I feel good." He entered the game leading the league in scoring (8 goals, 15 assists).

If mental telepathy -- envisioning a play and teammates' positioning before they happen -- is the same as a clear head, then Crosby is as healthy as ever.

"I don't think there's really anything I've changed," he said. "There's been times where I've gotten hit pretty good and it honestly hasn't even crossed my mind, so responding that way, that's a good place to be."

With Nash, or anyone else, Crosby isn't convinced he is capable of offering advice. "The more you can understand about what you're dealing with," he said, "the better. But, sometimes, after conversations -- like, talking to Patrice Bergeron -- I felt he went through things a little quicker and saw more immediate results." That only tended to discourage Crosby.

So he will merely share a bit of understanding. "When you're injured, it's hard to feel you're a part of it," he said. "You're kind of on your own schedule. Seeing guys progress, you immediately see they just get a little more jump in their step."

That's being mindful.

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