Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 10/01/07 at 04:34 PM ET
The Pittsburgh Penguins own Sidney Crosby participated in an NHL teleconference today. Here are the Q&A’s from the conversation:
Q. Could you comment on the feelings of the prospect of playing your first regular season game as captain of your team on Friday.
SIDNEY CROSBY: I’m looking forward to it. I mean, obviously it’s an honor to be a captain. But playing my first one as captain, I mean, it doesn’t really feel that much different. Like I said, it was an honor, and it still is an honor. But I don’t think my focus or mindset really changes any different than it would be last year or the year before.
Q. You’re a spirited player, play the game with a lot of emotion. Do you think that will change as captain or will you maybe assert yourself more than you do now?
SIDNEY CROSBY: No. I’m just going to keep everything the same. I’ve always tried to lead by example. As far as playing with emotion, I think I always have played with emotion, and I need to keep playing like that. But as long as I channel it and put it towards the right things, that’s what I have to do.
Q. For so many years you’ve had attention and spotlight and focus and hype surrounding you. You’ve come to the NHL, won a scoring title, MVP, captain. Does it ever seem overwhelming or so much so soon?
SIDNEY CROSBY: No. I mean, I don’t really think about it to be honest. There’s not too much time to think about it. I think I’m always looking to improve and get better. I think I’m always looking ahead, worrying about the present, but also looking ahead and trying to be better.
I don’t think there’s time to really think like that.
Q. Do you have to make an effort not to think about it or does it just come naturally to you?
SIDNEY CROSBY: No, I mean, I have to focus on the things that are really important and I don’t think it’s really important to worry about that too much. I have to worry about what I have to do, life in general. So I’m not too worried about it.
Q. I covered the Oilers when they had the young Gretzky, young Messier. You’re a student of the game. Do you look at that model as that’s the way you have to win a Stanley Cup? It’s not just you; you need the supporting cast of good young players and some veteran people like Roberts and Recchi, and the goalie as well?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I mean, younger guys or older guys, you need to have a good team and good support. They don’t necessarily have to be young; they don’t necessarily have to be older, but I think just good support.
You need depth obviously. Any team that wins a Stanley Cup has great depth. They have four solid lines, great goaltending, good defense. I mean, you need a complete team.
One or two star players on a team aren’t going to win a Stanley Cup. You definitely need a supporting cast and overall complete team.
Q. Is your team ready to win a Stanley Cup?
SIDNEY CROSBY: We have to prove that. You can’t talk about it. We’re not going to talk about it. Sure, it’s easy to say we are, but we have to prove that. I think we’re working hard, are prepared to first of all get in the playoffs, but we have to prove it.
Q. Do you feel like with the success the team enjoyed last year that this year’s team is ready to take that next step and become a serious Stanley Cup contender? How much did the team learn from last year’s playoff series with Ottawa?
SIDNEY CROSBY: For your first question, it’s pretty much the same thing. Obviously it’s easy to say yes, we are ready. But a lot of good teams don’t make the playoffs. So I think we have to, first of all, make sure we’re fighting and battling to get to the playoffs. We know our division’s gotten stronger. We got to make sure that we’re ready from the start here.
As for the playoff experience, I definitely think that was a great learning time for us. Just to get the taste of the playoffs, I think we really needed that. So when the opportunity comes again, we’ll know the situation and be a little bit more familiar with it.
Q. The University of Windsor hired a new coach, Pete Belliveau. Apparently he coached you for a few years.
SIDNEY CROSBY: He coached me for one year.
Q. What do you remember about him and what did you learn from him?
SIDNEY CROSBY: He was a good coach. I remember I think that’s one of the first times I actually was captain. He gave me the C, and that was kind of unusual for me because I was always a younger player on the team, so it was pretty rare that I got a letter just because of my age. But I remember he gave me the C. I remember being pretty happy about that, feeling pretty fortunate. I think that was one of the first times I wore a C.
Q. How old were you then?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I was probably 9 or 10.
Q. With Jordan Staal and Malkin going into their second years here, how much better do you expect them to be than their rookie year? How much more of a jump did you have in your second year when everything wasn’t as new?
SIDNEY CROSBY: It’s hard to say. I mean, I think they’re definitely going to feel a lot more comfortable. I think the start of the season, too, will be probably a little bit easier for them just where they’re not going into new buildings, they know their opponents better, things like that. Right off the start, I don’t think the game is going to seem as fast. I think just especially the start of the season, it makes such a huge difference. You’re able to start off with a little bit more confidence. You know your means, and I think that’s important.
Q. Could you comment on the suggestions there will be a Pittsburgh/Tampa Bay opener in Prague next year, and have you ever been there?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I have been there. I think that’s exciting. That’s obviously kind of a similar situation they had this year, having the games in London. It’s great for the fans. Get to see a different part of the world. I think that would be a fun experience for us.
Q. How would you feel about the NHL someday expanding to Europe?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I’m not sure. We’ll have to see where it goes. Right now 82 games is a grind in North America. I’m sure it would have to be set up the right way. But I’m happy with the way it is right now. I guess we’d have to see what happens.
Q. Would your major concern be the travel and the distance?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I mean, that’s something that I’m sure a lot of guys would look at as being pretty tough. Like I said, if they did come to that, I’m sure it would be under the right circumstances, having that in mind.
But, like I said, 82 games is a grind right now. I consider our division a pretty good traveling division, so it would be hard to tell.
Q. Last season you talked a lot about focusing on the games, uncertainty around the franchise, results seemed to bear that out. Now that it seems like the Penguins are going to be in Pittsburgh even after your career, tell me what that’s meant to the players and what you think it could mean to building a connection with the fans?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, it’s great for us. The last couple years it’s been talked about so much. So to know that we’re here to stay, there’s a lot of uncertainty that’s gone now. Obviously our focus can be on playing hockey, and that’s it.
Last year, we weren’t really thinking about it, but it was brought up so much, it was hard not to think about it once in a while. So it’s nice to know that moving forward we’re going to be here. And, like you said, the fans know we’re here for a while.
Q. Between your first and second year you pretty much cut your penalty minutes in of half. I was wondering if you kind of learned something and that was something you wanted to do or was that just a natural output of just the way the games went in your second year?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I’m sure it was a little bit of both. As far as me, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t retaliating, just make sure I didn’t let my emotions get ahead of me too much. You know, when you’re winning, too, you’re probably not pressing as much, hooking and things like that. First year we were losing some games, so it was probably easier to take penalties. It was probably a little bit of everything.
Q. Here in Boston we’re always interested in Ryan Whitney. Could you talk about what he’s meant to the team, how he’s helped you.
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, he’s really grown. Certainly on our power play, he’s been great. Great puck?moving defenseman. Him and Brooks Orpik have built some chemistry over the last couple years and really work well together. He’s really been a dependable guy who is going to move the puck well and score some goals as well.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about your off ice relationship? Are you good friends and stuff?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, we’re good friends. We came in around the same time. My first year I think he came in seven games in. We hung out a lot. That’s the fortunate thing about playing on this team, there’s a lot of younger guys. We’re all kind of growing up together and experiencing everything together, so it’s been really nice.
Q. Because of your stature in the game, even at such a young age of barely 20, you’re seen as a spokesman for the league. When players in the league see the hit that Steve Downie put on Dean McAmmond last week, in light of what happened in previous years with hits of this nature, did the punishment outweigh the crime, in your estimation?
SIDNEY CROSBY: No, I think that was a deserving suspension. I think that’s something that’s been talked about for a while, like you said. I definitely think there was a message that needed to be sent, that you can’t have those hits any more.
You never like to see that happen to a guy. The only thing you can do is hand out suspensions. You wish it never happened. But I think it was deserving.
Q. In light of what’s going on in the pre?season this year, scoring was down on last year’s playoffs, down during the pre season, and fighting is up. There’s two things at play here: the type of hockey that you guys, the Pittsburgh Penguins play, the type of hockey the Sabres play, and the type of throwback hockey that Anaheim played last season. Given all that, which way is the NHL going? Is it going to be finesse, fast skating, high scoring, or are we going back to the days when the bigger, stronger teams win the Cup every year?
SIDNEY CROSBY: It’s easy for me to say the high?scoring, high?tempo game. But teams are going to have success different ways. It’s up to the teams to build their own identity.
As long as it’s within the rules, as long as the things that have been called for the last couple years keep being called, it’s going to prohibit those teams from hooking and holding and really slowing it down.
As long as there’s an emphasis put on making sure that the hooks, holds, interference, things like that are called when they’re there, there shouldn’t be a problem.
Q. Will fighting always have a place in the NHL?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I think so. I mean, it’s been there for a long time. You don’t like to see guys get hurt, but sometimes the game has to police itself in a way. I don’t think there’s a huge issue there as long as guys are smart about it.
Q. Angelo Esposito, you had a good chance to see him in camp. Just wanted to get your thoughts on him as a player, as a person. Did you have a chance to take him under your wing at all?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, we ate dinner a couple of times. He’s a guy that went to Shattuck. I was able to talk to him a bit about his experiences there. I think just with him coming to camp, kind of going through some of the things that I went through, talked to him a bit about that. I think as camp went on, he felt more comfortable.
Obviously the game’s faster than it is in juniors, so it probably took him some time to adapt. But I think as it went on, he felt better. He had a great attitude about going back and making sure that next time he gets a chance, he’s going to be ready.
Q. There’s a lot of expectations around the league right now. Can you talk a little about your expectations in goals this season for yourself as well as for the team?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Pretty much the same. I mean, as far as myself, I just want to make sure I’m contributing. I want to make sure that hopefully I’m producing and doing things, maybe little things, little detail things, winning faceoffs, strong defensively. It’s the same thing every year.
But as far as the team, we just got to make sure we have a strong start. Obviously we have to get into the playoffs. Maybe it’s not going to be 105 points this year, we’ll see. But we have to find a way to get in the playoffs and get ourselves positioned to hopefully make a run.
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