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

Sidney Crosby had by no means attended any individual else’s Stanley Cup birthday party. So, when he helped fellow Nova Scotian and just right pal Nathan MacKinnon have a good time this summer time, Crosby let unfastened. As he lately joked, Crosby was once the “fifth drunkest person there.”

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

Hardly.

“He’s as intense as ever lately,” mentioned MacKinnon, who has lengthy educated with Crosby right through summer time breaks.

That depth was once on show Monday morning on the Penguins’ observe facility, the place Crosby led drills whilst atmosphere a frenetic tempo right through some of the ultimate casual participant workout routines sooner than coaching camp opens Thursday.

Yet, a couple of hours later, we noticed the comfortable Crosby once more: smiling as he pulled as much as a suburban Pittsburgh house to ship a unique package deal to Penguins season price ticket holders. He posed for an image to lend a hand the circle of relatives’s eldest son, the captain of his junior varsity high-school membership, ask a lady to homecoming (she mentioned sure). Later, Crosby clutched tightly a makeshift, do-it-yourself drawing that includes his No. 87 from the circle of relatives’s youngest daughter. A couple of signed autographs and photos later, he was once off to ship another package deal to another circle of relatives.

Intense, then comfortable.

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


(Rob Rossi / The Athletic)

On Tuesday, Crosby labored a distinct model of the dueling vibes. Again, his day would start by way of shepherding some of the casual participant workout routines at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Afterward, he was once the principle enchantment for an annual golfing trip with workforce advertisers. That supposed striking apart his aggressive aspect a minimum of a bit — he says he desires to be nice at {golfing} — to do the honors across the sponsors.

Intense, then comfortable. Even conciliatory.

Perhaps that is the newest model of Crosby, whose significance to the Penguins stays unequaled in the end those years. He stays their biggest on- and off-ice asset, a steward for the group, a pacesetter held in such excessive esteem by way of everybody gathering a test from Fenway Sports Group. Even potentialities hoping to play with Crosby, such as winger Nathan Legare, understand how particular Crosby is from afar.

“Sidney Crosby sets the standard pretty high,” Legare mentioned. “All anybody has to do is buy-in in the same direction. I think when you see the best player work 100 percent every day, you wake up and want to do the same thing. He’s the best in the league and he’s the greatest example you can get.”

Penguins control stored Crosby within the loop right through offseason negotiations together with his longtime teammates and pricey pals Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang this summer time. Crosby addressed his involvement in the ones negotiations Monday, announcing he “tried to stay up to date with everything” and including that “I don’t want to bug guys.”

Still, Penguins and NHL resources reaffirmed to The Athletic that Crosby made his emotions identified to control that his want was once for “Geno and Tanger to stay,” and additionally that Crosby visited Malkin at his house in Miami to “check on his friend when the talks weren’t going great,” a league supply mentioned.

It all labored out. The Penguins’ Big Three is in combination. GM Ron Hextall selected to deliver again the so-called band (with a couple of new additions on protection) to take another shot at a fourth Stanley Cup identify 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 accomplishment in between the ones Cup runs with the Penguins to cement his position as the unquestioned participant of his technology. He was once in his past due 20s then. He is 35 now and is now not a consensus pick out as the sector’s greatest hockey participant — and even its maximum in-demand.

He did take part, as he all the time does if wholesome, within the NHL’s annual media summit ultimate week in Las Vegas. He wasn’t the solar round which the development revolved, despite the fact that. In reality, Crosby was once in a position to skip out on chatting with nationwide print and on-line journalists, leaving that activity to the like of the Avalanche’s MacKinnon, the OilersConnor McDavid and others. And when the ones others had been polled about who’s the sport’s splendid participant, Crosby was once now not decided on; in truth, just one participant decided on him as the second-best participant within the NHL.

A slight? Nah.

For Crosby to also be within the dialog some of the perfect after 17 grueling seasons is a testomony to his skill, pressure and historical greatness. Then once more, he stays fiercely proud, and former Penguins teammate Ryan Malone guessed that Crosby hears when other people say the elite amongst a more youthful technology — fronted by way of McDavid, MacKinnon and the Maple LeafsAuston Matthews — have surpassed him.

“I promise you he doesn’t think that,” Malone mentioned.

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

“I think he’s at a new chapter in his career,” MacKinnon mentioned. “He wants to play as long as he can at an elite level and that’s the new challenge to him … which is pretty cool.

“Sid had such an amazing season last year that he should have been up there for the MVP maybe as well. Obviously, the points and stuff weren’t as high, but everything he brings to the game — everything — I don’t think there’s another guy I’d want on my team.”

The just right other people of Pittsburgh needn’t fear. Crosby has 3 years ultimate on his present contract. He instructed The Athletic’s Josh Yohe he desires to play another six seasons and has publicly mentioned 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 birthday party, Crosby couldn’t lend a hand however understand one thing that’s long past lacking from his lifestyles.

“It just brings back memories,” he mentioned of visiting with Lord Stanley’s silver chalice. “The parties. The experiences. And everything you go through when you win.

“I think it’s a good reminder of just how much it brings people together. You see (MacKinnon’s) family and friends and, you know, the people that are a part of it … when you’re on the other side of the party like that. And that was cool to see.

“And that’s something that makes you more motivated to want to do it again.”

— The Athletic’s Sean Gentille contributed to this tale

(Top picture: Charles LeClaire / USA Today)

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