TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks to face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Sidney Crosby: ‘I don’t want to struggle like that again’


Consider this an unofficial extension of Pittsburgh Penguins day at PHT.

Sidney Crosby, who had a difficult start to last season before both he and the Penguins took off toward a Stanley Cup victory and No. 87 won the Conn Smythe Trophy, has opened up about the personal doubt he experienced during the 2015-16 campaign, particularly during the team’s struggles in the first half of the season, in a piece for Sports Illustrated.

— He addressed the pressure he felt from fans as he struggled to produce offensively and the team found itself in a fight just to make the playoffs.

— He detailed how, on a personal level, this Stanley Cup victory was different from his first, and suggested that the Penguins, at a point last season, were considered a joke.

From Sports Illustrated:

I won’t rest on my laurels. I just can’t. Winning is special. If last season taught me anything, it was how thin the line is between being “washed up” and lifting the Stanley Cup. I don’t want to struggle like that again. That October to December stretch was awful; the lowest point of my career outside of injury. I’ll put in any amount of work I have to so I don’t have to go through that again.

As if outrunning the downside of my career wasn’t motivation enough, the new guys coming into the league will surely have my attention, too. These are the young and hungry guys. The guys that want to be where you are. They’re fast. They’re strong. And with all the young talent throughout the league, it just makes you want to get better yourself. That’s such a fun (and underrated) part of the game to me. I love having to adjust and adapt my game year-to-year to find ways to be my best.

Despite that much-discussed slow start, he still finished third in the league with 85 points in 80 games in the regular season. Only Jamie Benn (89) and Patrick Kane (106) had more points than Crosby, who is now 29 years old.

As Adam Gretz pointed out on PHT yesterday, it’s all about creating realistic expectations for Crosby moving forward.

He is still an elite player. And he seems intent on proving it again.


Sidney Crosby named captain of Canada’s World Cup team

Creating a realistic expectation for Sidney Crosby’s point total in 2016

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 07: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on during warmups before playing the against the Washington Capitals in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on May 7, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

This is part of Pittsburgh Penguins day at PHT…

The 2015-16 season had to be the most bizarre season of Sidney Crosby‘s NHL career to this point.

It started with one of the worst 30-game stretches of his NHL career (a stretch where he had just 19 total points), prompting a league-wide discussion where everybody tried to figure out what exactly was wrong with him and why he suddenly lost the ability to score like one of the league’s top players.

It ended with him hoisting the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after helping lead the Penguins to a Stanley Cup win, erasing five years worth of talk about how he and his team were underachievers in the playoffs.

It wasn’t the ending anybody expected at the start of the season, and especially at the start of December when the season seemed like it was starting to slip away from them.

Much of the blame for his — and the team’s — early struggles was put on the defensive system put in place by coach Mike Johnston. That point was only driven home more in the second half of the season and the playoffs when Crosby — and the Penguins offense as a team — did a complete 180 and took off, skyrocketing to the top of the league.

Crosby himself went from being on a 56-point pace through the first 30 games of the season, to finishing as the third-leading scorer in the league.

The difference in Crosby’s production under the two coaches last season creates creates an interesting question heading into the 2016-17 season: Will he be able return to being the 100-point player he was as recently as two years ago when he was by far the most dominant offensive player in the league, and if not what should we realistically expect?

While Crosby’s production under Johnston for his year-and-a-half tenure behind the bench was the worst of his career, it is also probably unfair to put all of the blame on the coach for that drop in production. The systematic changes and defensive expectations had to definitely play some role in it, but there was a lot more going on than just a chance in coaches and system.

Two other key major contributing factors:

  1. Nearly every top player in the NHL has seen a drop in their production in recent years because goal scoring at a league-wide level continues to trend toward all-time low territory. Since the start of the 2011-12 season only five players have topped 90 points in a single season, while only two (Crosby in 2013-14 and Patrick Kane in 2015-16) have done it over the past three years. Anything over 80 points these days is an elite scorer.
  2. The other factor is that Crosby himself is now in his late 20s, and while he could still have another decade of high level play in the NHL ahead of him, it is likely that he has already played his best hockey, at least when it comes to scoring. Scorers tend to have their best seasons between the ages of 23 and 26, and Crosby’s career has been no different. During those seasons he averaged 1.47 points per game, a pace that is good enough for 120 points over 82 games. The disappointing thing for Crosby and the Penguins during that time is that injuries (and a half season lockout) limited him to just 179 out of a possible 294 regular season games. He was able to play more than 41 games in only one of those four seasons. That means the NHL never really had a chance to fully see Sidney Crosby at his absolute best.

Keep in mind that 1.47 per-game average that Crosby had between his age 23 and 26 seasons. That is an unbelievable level of production for any era of hockey, even going back to the run-and-gun 1980s. You should not realistically expect that level of play from him anymore because the two points made above. It’s an impossible standard for anybody. Over the past 20 years only seven different players have averaged at least 1.47 points per game in a full season. Even Kane “only” averaged 1.29 this past season when he ran away with the scoring title.

If you look at Crosby’s performance last season in only the games that were coached by Sullivan, he had 66 points in 52 regular season games. That is a 1.26 point per game average (103 points over 82 games). If you include the playoffs, it was 85 points in 76 games, a 1.11 point per game average (93 points over 82 games). Both are an obvious increase from the Johnston-coached days, but they are also still a pretty significant decrease from what those totals were five or six years ago when he was scoring at an 120-point pace every year.

That is also the expectation that should probably exist going forward for Crosby.

It’s not unfair to say that Crosby is slowing down as a scorer. Because he is. It’s something that happens to every player when they reach this age. Even the greatest players ever like Gretzky and Lemieux saw significant drops in their scoring after they turned 27.

It also means there shouldn’t be a league-wide panic when he goes through a scoring slump at some point in the season.

It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with him, it just means that he’s not 24 anymore and shouldn’t be expected to score like he is.

He is still going to be the best offensive player in the world. It’s just going to be at a 90-95 point level instead of a 110-120 point level.

Sidney Crosby named captain of Canada’s World Cup team

SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 12:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after their 3-1 victory to win the Stanley Cup against the San Jose Sharks in Game Six of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center on June 12, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

After leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup victory in 2016, Sidney Crosby has been named the captain of team Canada for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Hockey Canada made the announcement on Thursday morning.

Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber, also long-time members of Team Canada in international competition, will serve as the assistant captains.

Crosby has won gold with team Canada at various tournaments, including the 2015 World Championship (where he also served as captain) and the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics.

He is also a two-time Stanley Cup champion in the NHL with the Penguins, serving as captain on their 2009 and 2016 championship teams.

Crosby had a slow start to the 2015-16 season and through the first two months was posting some of the worst numbers of his career. But following the in-season coaching change and a new-look roster around him he quickly climbed the NHL’s scoring leaderboard and finished the season with 85 points in 80 games, good enough for third best in the league. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

In 31 games for Team Canada at the World Championships and Olympics, Crosby has scored 17 goals and recorded 17 assists.

The World Cup of Hockey takes place in Toronto between September 17 and October 1.

Sidney Crosby went the extra mile for autograph seekers

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 22:  Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins signs autographs for fans as he arrives at the 2016 NHL Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on June 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

To an extent, it makes sense that some people don’t like Sidney Crosby.

Most obviously, he’s a great player who’s helped the Pittsburgh Penguins beat plenty of peoples’ favorite teams.

Beyond that, Crosby is a competitor, and sometimes the drive to win brings out an edge that rubs people the wrong way. (Just ask Claude Giroux.)

It’s probably a little tougher to really drum up that hate during weekends like these, as Crosby earned millions of good guy points when he went above and beyond in making autograph-seeking fans happy.

The story surfaced on social media and was expanded upon by NHL.com: a family put up a sign in Crosby’s Nova Scotia area requesting an autograph from No. 87 about three weeks ago. Eventually they took it down, yet it caught Crosby’s attention, as he came by the house and did more than just sign a single sweater:

Maybe the best part of the story comes for Darryl Pottie, who wasn’t there as Crosby spent at least 20 minutes chatting with the family and signing everything short of a cat. His wife Tricia used the subject line “An old friend dropped in” and then …

“There was a picture and I open it up,” Darryl said. “Right away I recognize my daughter and I look beside her and it’s like, ‘That…that’s Sidney Crosby! Wait…wait a second. That’s in my house! He’s in my house!’ And I’m screaming at my work and people are looking at me like, ‘What are you talking about?'”

It’s fantastic stuff, unless you want to convince yourself to continue jeering the guy.

NHL.com provides the full rundown.

30,000 fans showed up for Sidney Crosby’s Stanley Cup parade in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia

Crosby Cocle
Pittsburgh Penguins on Twitter

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) Sidney Crosby has received a rousing reception during a parade in Canada, with the Pittsburgh Penguins captain showing off the Stanley Cup to his hometown fans.

Crosby rode in the back of a pickup truck and displayed the Cup on top of the cab, lifting it over his head several times. He was decked out in a black ball cap and a T-shirt proclaiming Stanley Cup Champions 2016.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police made an appearance. Other police on motorcycles sounded their sirens and vehicles blasted horns as the procession moved along the parade route in Cole Harbour on Saturday.

The Penguins beat the San Jose Sharks in six games to win the Stanley Cup. As team captain, Crosby is permitted to have the trophy an extra day and he wanted to share it with more fans.

Crosby also brought the trophy home in 2009.


Photos from Sidney Crosby’s first day with the Cup