Sidney Crosby, ‘intense as ever,’ eyes longevity and another Stanley Cup

Sidney Crosby had by no means attended another person’s Stanley Cup social gathering. So, when he helped fellow Nova Scotian and good good friend Nathan MacKinnon have a good time this summer time, Crosby let free. As he just lately joked, Crosby was the “fifth drunkest individual there.”

Are we seeing a relaxed Crosby going into his 18th NHL season?

Hardly.

“He’s as intense as ever these days,” stated MacKinnon, who has lengthy skilled with Crosby throughout summer time breaks.

That depth was on show Monday morning on the Penguins’ apply facility, the place Crosby led drills whereas setting a frenetic tempo throughout one of many closing casual participant exercises earlier than coaching camp opens Thursday.

Yet, just a few hours later, we noticed the relaxed Crosby once more: smiling as he pulled as much as a suburban Pittsburgh dwelling to ship a particular bundle to Penguins season ticket holders. He posed for an image to assist the household’s eldest son, the captain of his junior varsity high-school membership, ask a lady to homecoming (she stated sure). Later, Crosby clutched tightly a makeshift, selfmade drawing that includes his No. 87 from the household’s youngest daughter. A couple of signed autographs and photos later, he was off to ship another bundle to another household.

Intense, then relaxed.


(Rob Rossi/The Athletic)

On Tuesday, Crosby labored a distinct model of the dueling vibes. Again, his day would start by shepherding one of many casual participant exercises at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Afterward, he was the principle attraction for an annual golf outing with workforce advertisers. That meant placing apart his aggressive facet no less than a bit — he says he needs to be nice at {golfing} — to do the honors across the sponsors.

Intense, then relaxed. Even conciliatory.

Perhaps that is the most recent model of Crosby, whose significance to the Penguins stays unequaled in any case these years. He stays their best on- and off-ice asset, a steward for the group, a pacesetter held in such excessive esteem by everybody amassing a examine from Fenway Sports Group. Even prospects hoping to play with Crosby, such as winger Nathan Legare, discover how particular Crosby is from afar.

“Sidney Crosby units the usual fairly excessive,” Legare stated. “All anybody has to do is buy-in in the identical course. I believe while you see the very best participant work one hundred pc daily, you get up and need to do the identical factor. He’s the very best within the league and he is the best instance you will get.”

Penguins administration stored Crosby within the loop throughout offseason negotiations along with his longtime teammates and pricey buddies Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang this summer time. Crosby addressed his involvement in these negotiations Monday, saying he “tried to remain updated with every thing” and including that “I do not need to bug guys.”

Still, Penguins and NHL sources reaffirmed to The Athletic that Crosby made his emotions identified to administration that his want was for “Geno and Tanger to remain,” and additionally that Crosby visited Malkin at his dwelling in Miami to “examine on his good friend when the talks weren’t going nice,” a league supply stated.

It all labored out. The Penguins’ Big Three is collectively. GM Ron Hextall selected to carry again the so-called band (with just a few new additions on protection) to take another shot at a fourth Stanley Cup title that has eluded Crosby since his back-to-back championship/Conn Smythe outburst in 2016 and 2017.

Crosby snuck a World Cup of Hockey/Most Outstanding Player achievement in between these Cup runs with the Penguins to cement his place as the unquestioned participant of his era. He was in his late 20s then. He is 35 now and is not a consensus choose as the world’s most interesting hockey participant — and even its most in-demand.

He did take part, as he all the time does if wholesome, within the NHL’s annual media summit final week in Las Vegas. He wasn’t the solar round which the occasion revolved, although. In truth, Crosby was capable of skip out on speaking to nationwide print and on-line reporters, leaving that activity to the likes of the Avalanche’s MacKinnon, the Oilers’ Connor McDavid and others. And when these others have been polled about who’s the sport’s greatest participant, Crosby was not chosen; the truth is, just one participant chosen him as the second-best participant within the NHL.

A slight? Nah.

For Crosby to even be within the dialog among the many absolute best after 17 grueling seasons is a testomony to his expertise, drive and historic greatness. Then once more, he stays fiercely proud, and former Penguins teammate Ryan Malone guessed that Crosby hears when folks say the elite amongst a youthful era — fronted by McDavid, MacKinnon and the Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews — have surpassed him.

“I promise you he does not suppose that,” Malone stated.

Neither does MacKinnon, the NHL participant exterior of Pittsburgh who is aware of Crosby greatest. During his Cup day and additionally their coaching periods, MacKinnon picked up on a freshness to Crosby.

“I believe he is at a brand new chapter in his profession,” MacKinnon stated. “He needs to play as lengthy as he can at an elite stage and that is the brand new problem for him… which is fairly cool.

“Sid had such a tremendous season final yr that he ought to have been up there for the MVP possibly as nicely. Obviously, the factors and stuff weren’t as excessive, however every thing he brings to the sport — every thing — I do not suppose there’s another man I’d need on my workforce.”

The good folks of Pittsburgh needn’t fear. Crosby has three years remaining on his present contract. He instructed The Athletic’s Josh Yohe needs to play another six seasons and has publicly said that he needs to retire with the Penguins.

As this previous summer time confirmed, Crosby’s needs are the Penguins’ command.

What else does Crosby need? Well, at MacKinnon’s social gathering, Crosby could not assist however discover one thing that is gone lacking from his life.

“It simply brings again recollections,” he stated of visiting with Lord Stanley’s silver chalice. “The events. The experiences. And every thing you undergo while you win.

“I believe it is a good reminder of how a lot it brings folks collectively. You see (MacKinnon’s) household and buddies and, you already know, the folks which might be part of it … while you’re on the opposite facet of the social gathering like that. And that was cool to see.

“And that is one thing that makes you extra motivated to need to do it once more.”

— The Athletic‘s Sean Gentille contributed to this story

(Top picture: Charles LeClaire / USA Today)

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