Skip to main content

The picture of energy and health, Sidney Crosby has just flown in from Pittsburgh to run a fresh gauntlet of interviews during the NHL's annual player media tour.

There is much to discuss here after an eventful summer that featured uncertainty about his wrist injury, the massive shake-up in the Penguins organization, plus a bizarre and quickly retracted report by the QMI new agency that Crosby had been arrested in Ottawa, even though he was thousands of miles away, in Vail, Colo., doing a week of altitude training, as per his custom.

At 27 and, remarkably, entering his 10th NHL season already, Crosby is tanned, toned and anxious to begin the new year, thankful the wrist problem that undermined his play in the final month of the season and through two playoff rounds has finally healed.

News of the injury didn't surface until more than a month after the season ended, when it wasn't healing properly. When the initial prescription of rest didn't work, there were rumours that arthroscopic surgery might be needed; and that, in fact, it had actually taken place.

In truth, Crosby opted to have his wrist treated with two injections and simply taking more time off. That eventually worked.

"It feels great," Crosby reported. "I've had no issues with it. It was one of those things I was dealing with."

"And after the season, I thought that over a certain period of time, it would get better," Crosby said. "That's what we all thought, but it didn't. Surgery was definitely something that was pretty close to happening, but obviously, you want to avoid that at all costs. Fortunately, I was able to do that."

It wasn't until early August that Crosby started to feel right again, not ideal timing because that's when he annually ramps up his off-season training program.

"The timing's tough because that's when you start to skate more, so I was just hoping that everything stayed as it was – and it did. So I'm pretty happy with it."

The injury, which the Penguins kept quiet, limited him on faceoffs and in his ability to shoot the puck, one of the reasons Crosby's goal scoring ground to a halt over the final 23 games of his year.

The Penguins swept out the old in decisive fashion last year, as a response to the team's continuing inability to duplicate the Stanley Cup championship they won back in Crosby's fourth season, 2008-09, which came one year after they qualified for the final and lost to the Detroit Red Wings. There is a new coach in Pittsburgh, Mike Johnston, a new general manager, Jim Rutherford, and the possibility that he could play with all new linemates in a new, more up-tempo puck-possession style.

The expectation was that with a young nucleus built around Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Kris Letang and goaltender Marc-André Fleury, the Penguins would win multiple championships. Instead, they have advanced as far as the Eastern Conference final just once in the past five seasons.

Staal was ultimately traded away to the Carolina Hurricanes as part of a small regroup made after their 2012 playoff exit; the seismic shifts happened this summer.

"You use the word frustration," Crosby said, "and the last two really were frustrating. We were in the conference final [in 2012] and in a great position, and Boston's a great team, but we got swept. That hurts. Last year, you have a team 3-1. They're a good team [the Rangers], but if you have a team 3-1, you have to close it out. So those two probably sting the most since we won.

"But you look at that whole picture, at Chicago and L.A., they've both got two, but it's such a fine line. If we win in 2008, then we've got two; and if we win this year, then we're not even talking about this. It's not easy to win. We've been in some good situations and we haven't, so … ," Crosby said with a pause before adding, "love to find a way."

Crosby won the scoring crown last season along with his second Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player, but it was clear the playoff disappointment hadn't been wholly erased when he stepped up to accept the award in June.

"The appreciation I had for it this time was different than when I won it the first time, only because I was able to play a full season," Crosby said. "There were so many times when I felt like I was having a really good year and something happened. Just being able to get into 81 games – and in an Olympic year, which was more intense – that was nice.

"But that being said, it didn't cure the not-winning and everything that came with it. It was a really good lesson. I had an opportunity to realize, when it's all said and done, being able to win, that's what you play for.

"Individual awards are nice and I do have an appreciation for them, but winning at the end of the day is what makes everything right."