Sidney Crosby had never attended someone else’s Stanley Cup party. So, when he helped fellow Nova Scotian and good buddy Nathan MacKinnon celebrate this summer, Crosby let loose. As he recently joked, Crosby was the “fifth drunkest person there.”
Are we seeing a relaxed Crosby going into his 18th NHL season?
“He’s as intense as ever lately,” said MacKinnon, who has long trained with Crosby during summer breaks.
That intensity was on display Monday morning at the Penguins’ practice facility, where Crosby led drills while setting a frenetic pace during one of the final informal player workouts before training camp opens Thursday.
Yet, a few hours later, we saw the relaxed Crosby again: smiling as he pulled up to a suburban Pittsburgh home to deliver a special package to Penguins season ticket holders. He posed for a picture to help the family’s eldest son, the captain of his junior varsity high-school club, ask a girl to homecoming. Later, Crosby clutched tightly a makeshift, homemade drawing featuring his No. 87 from the family’s youngest daughter. A few signed autographs and pictures later, he was off to deliver another package to another family.
Intense, then relaxed.
On Tuesday, Crosby worked a different version of the dueling vibes. Again, his day would begin by shepherding one of the informal player workouts at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Afterward, he was the main attraction for an annual golf outing with team advertisers. That meant putting aside his competitive side at least a little — he says he wants to be great at golfing — to do the honors around the sponsors.
Intense, then relaxed. Even conciliatory.
Perhaps this is the latest version of Crosby, whose importance to the Penguins remains unequaled after all these years. He remains their greatest on- and off-ice asset, a steward for the organization, a leader held in such high esteem by everyone collecting a check from Fenway Sports Group. Even prospects hoping to play with Crosby, such as winger Nathan Legare, notice how special Crosby is from afar.