ESTERO, Fla. – Pittsburgh Penguins star centre Sidney Crosby’s right wrist appears to be on the road to recovery.
The reigning NHL MVP said Friday he’s pleased with the way his wrist has responded to treatment over the summer and is anxious for training camp to begin as the Penguins try to recover from their second-round collapse in the playoffs.
“It’s good,” Crosby said. “You want to see how things progress throughout the summer once you start skating and get back to that regular routine. You want to see how it reacts so I’m happy with the way it’s gone.”
Crosby led the NHL with 104 points on his way to a second Hart Trophy as the league’s top player, but scored just one goal in 13 playoff games as Pittsburgh fell to the New York Rangers in seven games after blowing a 3-1 lead. He insisted in the aftermath he was healthy only to reveal he’d been dealing with the wrist for the latter part of the season.
The 27-year-old considered surgery before opting to wait and see if further treatment would produce the desired results. He looked just fine skating alongside fellow NHLers Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche, Jonathan Tavares and Kyle Okposo of the New York Islanders and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ David Clarkson under the direction of trainer Matt Belfry.
Crosby likened the workouts to “hockey school” because it allows players to focus on fundamentals and individual skill work, an opportunity the long slog through the regular season doesn’t often provide.
“It’s just refreshing things, relearning things as you can,” Crosby said.
When Crosby returns to Pittsburgh before camp begins next month, he’ll find the landscape far different than the one he left in May. The team fired general manager Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma as part of a massive front office restructuring after the franchise failed for the fifth straight season to reach the Stanley Cup final.
The Penguins tabbed former Carolina GM Jim Rutherford to replace Shero. Rutherford went through a lengthy coaching search before settling on Mike Johnston, whose first job running the show in the NHL will be in a crucible where any spring that doesn’t end with a championship is a disappointment.
“We’re going to have some new faces in the dressing room trying to get that momentum and get a fresh start,” Crosby said. “We’re not happy with the way things ended last year.”
Crosby doesn’t believe the expectations need to change even though defencemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen and All-Star forward James Neal left in the off-season.
“The organization is committed to winning,” Crosby said. “We have opportunities as players to be successful every year. As far as the team is concerned, I think we’re in a great position to win every year. We’ll do our best to do our part.”
The camp also gave Crosby a chance to hang out with rookie of the year and good friend Nathan MacKinnon. Both former No. 1 overall picks hail from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Crosby is well versed in what it takes to cope with being deemed a franchise saviour, not that MacKinnon needs much help after scoring 63 points and helping the Avalanche back to the post-season for the first time in four years.
“I can relate to a lot of things he’s going through,” Crosby said. “He’s handled it pretty well. You see the way he’s playing the first year with the Calder Trophy. He’s just going to get better. It’s a matter of being there for him.”