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Crosby On Penguins’ Future: That’s Up To Other People

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby answers questions. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sidney Crosby still believes. He still leads. He still bleeds, figuratively, at times like Wednesday night. However, the Pittsburgh Penguins future Hall of Fame center and team captain will not try to dictate what might happen with the club.

Oh, he has his opinions, but in offering some candid if sad postgame thoughts, he made it clear he will not try to wield whatever power his stardom might give him to influence personnel moves during what could be a tumultuous offseason — one that has suddenly arrived.

After three straight opening-round losses, capped by a 5-3 loss Wednesday that gave the New York Islanders a 4-2 first-round East Division series win, Crosby acknowledged there will be calls for the Penguins to break things up, perhaps rebuild.

That could especially be true given that the Penguins have newer front-office executives in Ron Hextall and Brian Burke.

In particular, Crosby addressed the status of the other two-thirds of the team’s big three – center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang.

“I’ve never been one to try to be GM, and I’m not going to start now,” Crosby said. “I think those guys want to win. I know that we’ve been together a long time. I’ve seen how much they care, their commitment. I don’t ever doubt or question that.

“There’s so many parts, and it is a business. That’s up to other people, but as far as what I can see and how I feel, there’s zero doubt in my mind that the group that we have is a really good group, and we had an opportunity here. That’s why it stings so much.”

The Penguins have won three Stanley Cups since Crosby, 33, Malkin, 34, and Letang, 34, joined the team, most recently in 2017.

Crosby acknowledged that there has been and now certainly will continue to be speculation about and calls for a new Penguins era, and he was asked what he might say to dissuade that.

“Well, they’ve been saying that for four years, right, so I don’t know if I’m going to change anybody’s mind, but I think that we did a lot of good things this year,” he said. “You can look at every year and analyze it differently, but this year I felt like we had a good group and we did a lot of good things. I think we easily could have made a (long playoff) run. I feel pretty confident about this group in saying that, the way that we were trending, the way that we finished the year. But it’s a fine line in the playoffs.

“As far as what I’d say, I really don’t know, but I know that the three of us, we want to win and we’ll do whatever it takes to try to compete to do that every year.”

The Penguins struggled early in this COVID-19 shortened and highly regulated season, leading to questions about whether they would make the postseason for a 15th straight year, but they improved over time and ended up winning the East with a final 10-3 run playing a strong, effective two-way style.

Then came the Islanders, and it was all over.

“It’s disappointment,” Crosby said. “It’s not guaranteed to make the playoffs. We’ve been fortunate that we’ve been there a lot. Every time you get to play in the playoffs, it’s an opportunity. It really is the best time of the year. You want to be in it. You want to play for a long time. And you want to compete for the Stanley Cup.

“It’s never a good feeling when you lose, but I think … with the way that we played leading into the playoffs, we felt good about our group. We thought that we could make a good run. For it to come to a halt here is disappointing.

“This is probably the ultimate learning experience, going through this. It’s tough to lose in the playoffs. It’s tough to get here. So, like I said, this one stings.”

Crosby, ever the leader, also made sure he took some public responsibility. After leading the Penguins during the regular season with 24 goals and 62 points in 55 games, he was held to one goal and one point in the six games against the Islanders, no points in Wednesday’s deciding loss.

Asked what went wrong during the series, Crosby did not bring up the much-maligned goaltending of Tristan Jarry or the outstanding goaltending of New York rookie Ilya Sorokin. He made sure to point a finger at himself.

“I don’t know if it’s one thing,” Crosby said. “I thought we got better as the series went on. I think you look at two overtime games that we lost, being able to win one of those would have been huge. But I think we did a lot of good things and the last couple games I thought we played really well. Some big mistakes, obviously, (Wednesday night). I miss a guy on a couple chances that end up in the back of the net. Just a play here or there was really the difference. I’ve got to come up with that on either side of the puck.

“I feel like I didn’t made a big play, whether it’s overtime or adding to a lead when we were up … look at some chances that I had, those kinds of things, those are so important. You can’t overlook the importance of those.”

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Shelly is a columnist and reporter for Pittsburgh Hockey Now. She was a Penguins beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and remains a contributor to The Hockey News. Catch her on Twitter @_shellyanderson

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Uros
Uros
3 months ago

I agree with Crosby. He’s a great player and a great leader. He’s taking all the blame he can which is part of his greatness. I, on the other hand, am a fan and I can just say what I saw with my own eyes. There’s nothing wrong with the Pens style of play or their big three. They were let down by sub par goaltending, while dominating and owning this series. It is a business, but I think it would be best for the business to leave the big three where they belong and start looking for a serious… Read more »

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
3 months ago
Reply to  Uros

All I will say is I can’t disagree with you more. I totally disagree with you. Also I don’t care about the Caps or Vegas look at our problems.

mason
mason
3 months ago
Reply to  Uros

this is hilarious. Everyone dumps on the goalie. If he goes on to another team and does well, they will have a ton of remorse and wished he was here. GTFOH. This wasn’t on the goalie. The goalie is only to blame for the O/T loss in game 5. Defense structure outside of Letang and Dumo was shit. Forwards barely helped the defense well. Everytime the Isles went on the heavy pressure forecheck, it felt like Marino, Ceci, Matheson and Pettersson were about to give the puck away (and they did several time). If I was a goalie, I’d have… Read more »

Scott Maloni
Scott Maloni
3 months ago

Crosby looked old and slow

concerned pensfan
concerned pensfan
3 months ago
Reply to  Scott Maloni

not nearly as slow as letang and malkin; crosby can still skate but Geno and Tanger they are skating in sand

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
3 months ago

We all have concern for this team and people don’t like change but change is coming!

mason
mason
3 months ago

Malkin looked slow. The breakaway he had for example took forever, but he is also battling an injury. Letang is definitely not slow. Crosby isn’t that much slower either.

But if anything, they can all learn from Carter’s skating coach.

frustrated penguin fan
frustrated penguin fan
3 months ago
Reply to  mason

letang is slow

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
3 months ago
Reply to  Scott Maloni

People won’t like it but that is the truth!

El Jafe
El Jafe
3 months ago

Should’ve won in 5, enough said. Stop acting like the isle was better. They weren’t. Jarry is terrible.

Steve
Steve
3 months ago

Is it even possible to win in this league when the vast majority of your better players are in their mid 30’s?

Karen Kasavage
Karen Kasavage
3 months ago

The team that wanted to win won the series, the team that pushed and willed to win with their play on the ice won the series. Unfortunately once again that team was not the Penguins. Playoff mentality, sense of urgency to win every game, for the past number of years has been lacking. No, not one player deserves blame, nor this or that coach. If Crosby is sincere, and yes I do believe in him as the Pens captain, he needs to realize something needs to change, mostly that mindset. His words seem a bit complacent, but only because we… Read more »

Dave Davies
Dave Davies
3 months ago
Reply to  Karen Kasavage

So sick of this narrative that has absolutely no basis in facts. Desire has nothing to do with it. The Penguins outplayed the Islanders for the majority of this series and if they had gotten even average goaltending then they would be moving on.

Chase Ranson
Chase Ranson
3 months ago

Every team has flaws the Pens won the division they have talent so I will just say this if Jarry was the Iles goalie the Pens sweep the series in 4 games

Brian
Brian
3 months ago

First of Jarry’s misplay in game 5 was bad but in all honesty they should have never been in OT if Letang remembered that he is defense first and not a forward to get caught up the ice all the time. His positioning on first 2 goals scored by NY was IMO his fault for being out of position. I have watched this team the moment Crosby was drafted and Letang and Malkin have been done playing hockey since 2018. Even the first goal of game 6 he was caught again, he doesn’t have the energy or desire to play… Read more »

Dan Kingerski
Admin
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian

Letang wasn’t caught up ice on any of the goals. The first period goal you’re referring to had three Penguins over the top. It was, in fact, Letang’s job to pinch on that. I feel like we’ve explained that a few times now.

Brian
Brian
3 months ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

Really? Letang pinched when only Crosby and Dumoulin are out over the blueline and Crosby got to turn to catch Beauvillier. That is some good timing pinch. Guess NHL replay got some good video editors on their team. Explain it all you want, they are done and it will be the future for this team if they do not make some changes.

Dan Kingerski
Admin
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian

Good to see an actual hockey explanation made a dent.

frustrated penguin fan
frustrated penguin fan
3 months ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

letang was a minus in 4 games and game 5 he cost the pens 2 goals on bad pinches both cases erased penguin lead and momentum. Letang didn’t have any part with the 2017 cup win and go ahead and check out the pens playoff record since he has come back….no coincidence there he is on the ice at a very high freq. when the opponents score. His skating from injuries and stroke is noticeable as he struggles to gain center red consistently.

Dan Kingerski
Admin
3 months ago

Can’t explain this enough–Letang was in the proper position on both goals. Per Penguins system and just hockey, he was where he was supposed to be. In the immediate aftermath, we explained the correctness of his positioning. If you’re going to downgrade him, you’ll have to find other examples.

David
David
3 months ago

Look, I would not want to pile on the guy, but the Pens lost this series because of poor goaltending by Jarry. Games 1, 5, and 6 were really poor. DeSmith being injured played a huge part — they had no where to turn. If Jarry plays even average we win this series. Crosby is right about this group having a great opportunity. No scoring didn’t help, and the Isles goalie was great, but all you have to do is replay the Isles’ goals. It is a shame.

Dave Davies
Dave Davies
3 months ago
Reply to  David

You’re absolutely right. This team can contend next season if they’re able to somehow improve the goaltending situation. I think it would be stupid to blow this team up when it’s so obvious that the goaltending was the reason that they lost the series. We’ll see if Hextall really has the goods as a GM or not. I’ve got to think that Mario is going to have to be included in the decision making if Hextall and Burke are thinking about blowing this team up and trying to rebuild. You don’t usually rebuild an entire roster when the reason you… Read more »

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[…] Crosby On Penguins’ Future: That’s Up To Other People […]

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
3 months ago

If people didn’t like change there wouldn’t be so much interest over the summer months and each year at the trade deadline. One big name will go if they want to get bigger. It just won’t be who some pine to be rid of.

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[…] Carter may be able to help but as Penguins captain Sidney Crosby pointed out after the Game 6 loss, that will be up to management and ownership. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now) […]

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
3 months ago

Never seen 87 play a worse 6 games. I think he was plain worn out by the crazy schedule in March and April.
We desperately need size. NYI ruled the front of the net at both ends.
BOS and WSH do also. Get bigger or continue to go home early.

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[…] Crosby On Penguins’ Future: That’s Up To Other People – (Pittsburgh Hockey Now) […]

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[…] Shelly Anderson of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Sidney Crosby on the going forward with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. […]

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[…] Shelly Anderson of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Sidney Crosby on the going forward with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. […]

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[…] Shelly Anderson of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Sidney Crosby on the going forward with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. […]

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[…] Shelly Anderson of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Sidney Crosby on the going forward with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. […]

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