Sidney Crosby: ‘I don’t want to struggle like that again’

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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.

Related:

Sidney Crosby named captain of Canada’s World Cup team