PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Sidney Crosby’s mini-vacation after the latest triumph in his remarkable career lasted all of four days.
Sorry, but the process of defending a Stanley Cup waits for no one. So there Crosby was on Tuesday skating in line rushes with the rest of his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates just five days removed from leading Team Canada to the World Cup of Hockey title as the tournament’s MVP.
And no, Crosby wasn’t about to complain about being tired. That’s simply not his way. Besides, his electric performance during the World Cup offered plenty of proof he’s fresh as the Penguins look to become the first team since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings to repeat as Cup champions.
“When you’re playing a lot of hockey it’s more comfortable,” Crosby said. “You just have to balance rest and recovery and making sure you’re ready to play.”
Crosby certainly looked ready while piling up 10 points during Canada’s clinical domination of the eight-team tournament that featured the world’s best players. He was a unanimous selection as tournament MVP just a few months removed from being named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner after guiding the Penguins to their fourth championship.
There’s no danger of burnout, however. Crosby is a rink rat in the best sense. The Penguins were certainly happy to have his familiar No. 87 on the ice, allowing coach Mike Sullivan to work extensively on special teams for the first time during camp.
That’s just fine by Crosby, who is well aware of the challenge that awaits the Penguins after they visit the White House on Thursday and raise the Cup banner to the rafters at newly renamed PPG Paints Arena during the season opener next Thursday against Washington.
“There’s a reason why it hasn’t been done for a long time,” Crosby said. “Everyone wants to beat you. Everyone wants to measure themselves against you.”
The last time Pittsburgh tried to go back-to-back the Penguins didn’t make it out of the second round of the playoffs in 2010. Five sometimes turbulent years for the franchise and its star followed before Sullivan’s arrival last December and a commitment by management to provide needed depth galvanized Pittsburgh last spring, leading a sprint through the postseason that ended with Crosby taking the Cup from commissioner Gary Bettman for a second time.
The Penguins did little to tinker with their personnel during the offseason, which should only aid Crosby as he gets up to speed.
“It shouldn’t take long to adjust or adapt,” Crosby said. “Playing kind of long into last year, that intensity, that desperation that you finish the season off, you hopefully can kind of carry that off to the start of this season.”