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Sidney Crosby Mulling Penguins Contract Extension, Future

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby

Let’s put this out there: Pittsburgh Penguins center, megastar and team captain Sidney Crosby would not commit to much of anything as he looked ahead after the team missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

That warrants a closer look on a few different levels.

As the Penguins went through exit interviews, cleaned out their lockers and met with reporters on Thursday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, Crosby said he still had to look into signing a contract extension this summer, can’t say how many more years he wants to play and, in the shorter term, isn’t sure about playing for Team Canada in the IIHF World Championships in Czechia.

But don’t worry. It was less than 48 hours since the Penguins got eliminated from making the playoffs, and less than 24 hours since the team closed its season with a 5-4 loss on the road against the New York Islanders.

Crosby made it clear that he will address all those issues in due time, and given his career-long approach to things, it’s unlikely he was leaving wiggle room in terms of, say, ending up on a different team or retiring anytime soon.

He was just being his deliberate self.

Crosby, 36, is coming off a fabulous season in which he reached 42 goals, 94 points, reached several milestones and nearly carried the team into the playoffs with a spectacular stretch run.

He has one more season left on his contract, so he is eligible to sign an extension as of July 1. Without an extension, Crosby will spend next season on an expiring contract with the possibility of becoming an unrestricted free agent a year from now.

“Obviously, I’m going to talk to Kyle (Dubas, president of hockey operations and general manager) and have a conversation with him,” Crosby said. “We’ll see. It’s something that I’ll have conversations with him about.”

If he does sign an extension this summer, it’s unclear what sort of term he might accept. One year? Two? Three?

“There’s no point in thinking about four or five years from now,” Crosby said. “There’s always so many factors when you get to this point.”

He said he has always gone year by year in terms of evaluating his game, and that hasn’t changed based on his age.

He quickly added, “But I think that’s separate from talking contract.”

With no playoffs, the timing could be good for Crosby to join Team Canada at the worlds. He wasn’t ruling it out.

“It’s something I’m going to think about the next couple days and give them an answer after that,” he said.

That might be a little surprising, given that Crosby played all 82 games this season, but he said he feels good physically.

That’s different from how things are emotionally after a second spring in a row with no Stanley Cup playoffs, especially since the Penguins – led by Crosby – staged a furious run of 8-3-1 to get themselves into contention for a playoff spot.

“It’s disappointing, especially with the way that we finished the year,” Crosby said. “We were playing good hockey. When you miss by the (narrow) margin that we have the last couple years, there’s so many games that you look at, and plays, things that you want to redo. It’s a fine line. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of it the last couple years.

“But, hopefully, this is something that, having gone through this this year, will make us better.”

That doesn’t diminish what Crosby did.

“I just think he’s remarkable,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of his captain. “To continue to play at the elite level that he plays at year in and year out, for the longevity that’s been able to do it, is remarkable. There’s just more evidence of that. He had a tremendous year in every aspect of his game.

“He just means so much to this team in so many ways, both on the ice through his performance, but also off the ice, his leadership and the standard that he creates for the group.”