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Penguins’ Sidney Crosby back on ice with something to prove |

Penguins’ Sidney Crosby back on ice with something to prove

Sidney Crosby feels like he has something to prove.

That is, simultaneously, the most ridiculous and the most perfectly predictable thing he possibly could have said while meeting with reporters after taking part in an informal skate with 13 of his teammates Wednesday morning in Cranberry.

It’s ridiculous because of what Crosby has accomplished. At age 31, he already has three Stanley Cup championships, two Olympic gold medals and 11 major individual NHL trophies among the entries on his gaudy resume.

It’s understandable because of who Crosby is. Anyone who ever has sought to explain Crosby’s success always takes note of his world-class competitiveness.

With the start of training camp a little more than a week away, is the competitive fire burning hotter inside Crosby now that he’s coming off a second-round playoff exit to the Washington Capitals rather than the championship celebrations he enjoyed the previous two summers?

Maybe a little.

When the needle already is pinned to the right, how much more can it possibly move?

“Whether you’ve won or lost, you’ve still got something to prove when you come into the next year,” Crosby said.

While Crosby’s motivation hasn’t changed much from the previous two summers, his offseason timetable has been dramatically different.

By the time the Capitals raised the Stanley Cup on June 7, Crosby’s summer was already a month old.

“Definitely in the conference final, you could tell they seemed to get another gear,” Crosby said. “Getting kind of over that hump, past the second round, it was some weight off their shoulders. They just continued to elevate their game. They played well and, obviously, deserved it.”

Crosby’s observations were based on Washington’s win over Tampa Bay in the conference finals because he didn’t see much of their conquest of Vegas in the final round of the playoffs. He was traveling, which is something a longer summer afforded him.

He made stops in England, Switzerland, Austria and Germany during a European tour.

Otherwise, it was a matter of using a few extra weeks of down time to rest and get ready to prove himself again.

“It’s good to get a full summer in and train,” Crosby said. “Probably more mentally than anything, it’s coming in fresh and knowing you lost the year before and you want to prove something.”

Crosby only ran into a few new teammates upon returning to Pittsburgh. The Penguins made a couple of free-agent acquisitions over the summer and lost a couple of key players from their previous championship runs, but general manager Jim Rutherford didn’t do major surgery on the roster.

That development gets a thumbs-up from Crosby.

He sees the value in making changes, including the addition of his longtime pal Jack Johnson, the return of heart-and-soul center Matt Cullen and the infusion of youth that happens every fall.

“Our team’s always looking to get better. Jim’s always trying to find ways to improve us,” Crosby said. “Just excited. It’s always good to bring in new guys. In Cully’s case, I guess he’s not new, but I think guys that are just excited to be here and bring that energy. That combined with youth, too, I think that helps a lot.”

He also sees value in taking another crack at a Cup with a core that has been together for the long haul.

“We had a lot of turnover last year, so to see a lot of similar faces is nice,” Crosby said. “It’s hard to do these days. It’s hard to keep teams together. The more you can do that, the better it is, especially at the start as far as all being on the same page.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby plays against the Panthers Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016 at PPG Paints Arena.
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