Setting up a grand entrance, perhaps? Saving some wear and tear on slightly older legs maybe? Whatever the reason for Sidney Crosby’s so-called workload management during this Pittsburgh Penguins training camp, he wasn’t divulging much Tuesday.
In fact, the team captain indicated there’s no big underlying issue or secret strategy to what has been a slightly different preseason approach for him, and he said he expects to (finally) play in a preseason game Wednesday when Detroit visits PPG Paints Arena.
“There’s not much to get into. I think it’s just trying to manage the time that we have,” Crosby said after participating in an up-tempo practice at the UPMC Lemieux. “Camp is pretty intense, especially the first few days. After that, just tried to make the most of the time we had in between these exhibition games.”
It’s certainly been a different dynamic for Crosby his fall compared with previous training camps. He has not played in any of the four preseason games. Saturday, he skated separately instead of skating with the team’s non-game group. And that is after he skipped playing for Canada in the World Championships last spring, opting instead to rest and work on a few things as a nod to getting a little older.
“We’re just managing his workload throughout training camp. That was part of the plan,” coach Mike Sullivan said Saturday, adding that Crosby is not dealing with an injury.
None of his teammates, older or younger, seems to be getting the same “workload management” treatment. Crosby is 32, entering his 15th season. He and the team are putting forth the idea that he is simply being smart about his playing time and energy balanced with getting prepared for the season.
And there’s no reason, including behind the scenes, to believe it’s anything else.
Early in his career, Crosby was enthusiastically one of the first players on the ice for nearly every optional practice. Not so much anymore.
“I still go on for the odd optional,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s ever going to change. You try to manage it a little bit better. That’s part of just the process and learning and trying to use your experience a bit.”
The Penguins have just two preseason games remaining, Wednesday’s game and one Saturday at home against Buffalo.
“I usually play three games. I’ll probably end up playing two,” Crosby said.
It should be noted that Crosby was upbeat and in a good mood, even playing along when asked by PHN tongue-in-cheek how the Penguins would be able to assess what the three-time Stanley Cup champion might be able to bring in the season after seeing him in just one or two exhibition games.
“It’s not that big a difference,” he said, smiling. “I’ve got to make the most of my two games then. Puts a little more pressure on.”
All kidding aside, Crosby is looking forward to finally getting into a preseason game.
“Yeah, I am,” he said. “Those scrimmages are tough. It’s tough going against your own guys. It would be nice to go into a game, with a lot of the guys, a lot of different combinations we’re going to see to start the year and start building that.”