Sidney Crosby had an unusual summer.
Last week, his hometown of Cole Harbour was impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
The volatile weather was little more than a nuisance for Crosby, who reported little damage to his inland home, but a sign welcoming visitors to the “home of Sidney Crosby” did get blown over.
The most aggravating part of Crosby’s summer was the length. For the first time in his career, Crosby was swept out of the playoffs in the first round.
After being overwhelmed by an underwhelming Islanders team in the first round before the calendar even turned over to May, Crosby and company had a surplus of nearly five months in down time. Considering this team has played well past Memorial Day in recent years, it was a strange feeling.
“We weren’t happy with the way things finished,” Crosby said.
Neither was general manager Jim Rutherford, who suggested last season’s group, still largely composed of members of the 2016 and ’17 Stanley Cup championship squads, was sated by success.
“I didn’t see a point where our guys came together as a team,” Rutherford said during his season-closing press conference in April. “And I wonder if it’s because there’s too many guys (are) content with where they’re at in their careers after winning a couple of (Stanley Cup titles), and is that a signal where some of that has to be changed where you have that eagerness again.”
Crosby didn’t dispute the notion when asked about it during the first day of training camp Friday in Cranberry.
“There’s a certain level of hunger you have to have to get through the playoffs with urgency and desperation,” Crosby said. “You can’t wait until you’re down 2-0 or 3-0 before you find that. Sometimes, you think because you have experience, that automatically gives you an edge. It does if you use it, then if you don’t, it doesn’t do much for you. That urgency, that hunger, there’s something to be said for that.”
There’s also something to be said for time. With several core members of this group — namely Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang — each approaching their mid-30s, the opportunities to win another Stanley Cup are finite.
“I know I’m 33 years old, not like the young guys here,” Malkin said. “We have a great team. We have a couple, maybe two, three, four more chances to win again. Not many (more) years I may be playing in the NHL. I understand that. I just want to have fun and enjoy it every day.”
This offseason, Rutherford dealt away Phil Kessel as well as Olli Maatta and lost Matt Cullen to retirement. All were members of the franchise’s two most recent Stanley Cup titles and had combined total of 187 career playoff games with the Penguins.
They have replaced by the likes of Brandon Tanev, Alex Galchenyuk and Dominik Kahun. That trio has combined for 50 career postseason games, none of which has taken place in a Stanley Cup final.
“That energy is hard to match when guys get opportunities,” Crosby said. “When they get a fresh start or come to a new team, I think there’s always something to be said about that, that energy they bring. Whether it’s youth or a guy from a different team coming in, little things like that go a long way.”
Actions will go a lot farther than words in proving this squad isn’t content.
“Right now, I’m excited with the group that we have,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “There’s a nice feeling around the team right now. Everyone is excited about the possibilities and the opportunity that we have in front of us. But that’s all it is at this point, is an opportunity. Now, we have to go out and earn it every day.”