Sidney Crosby is the same marvellous player, but one more comfortable with his superstar status. Crosby, 21, is entering his fourth NHL season and captained the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup final last season. The Pens were largely overmatched in the final against Detroit. As the hockey world watched, anticipating a classic clash, Crosby never really rose to the occasion, largely due to an ankle injury and a nagging rib problem.
"It wasn't so much my ankle as it was my ribs," Crosby said. "My ankle is good now. I rested my whole body over the summer."
For Crosby, there has been very little time to straighten out some details in his private life. He remains a tenant at the home of team owner Mario Lemieux, a living situation Crosby has maintained since his rookie season. He hasn't yet made his mind up about moving into his own digs.
"It's more a matter of the place I do find being the right one for me," Crosby said yesterday as the Penguins skated for about 90 minutes in preparation for the Leafs. "When I do move I definitely want to make sure it's the right place."
Crosby has a home in his native Nova Scotia, just outside Halifax. And while he relaxed far away from his hockey home, the Penguins underwent significant personnel changes.
Gone are unrestricted free agents Ryan Malone, Georges Laraque, Gary Roberts, Jarkko Ruutu, Marian Hossa and Adam Hall. Three new forwards — Miro Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko and Eric Godard — were brought in. Crosby has only had a few days to find chemistry with Satan — his new winger now that Hossa is gone.
"We should be good, he should be good to play with, he's a true goal-scorer," Crosby said. "Marian was a guy who'd go into the corner and dig the puck out. He was a goal scorer too, but Miro is a scorer. Right now we're getting used to each other and getting a feeling for how we play."
The Penguins appear to be weaker in terms of veterans as they prepare to defend their Eastern Conference title. But the experience of having the club's younger players play in a Stanley Cup final should serve the team well.