Stu Cowan: No child anymore, Pens’ Crosby is just getting higher with age

PITTSBURGH — The worst locker-room spot within the NHL needs to be the one beside Sidney Crosby.

That’s what I used to be considering after the Pittsburgh Penguins practised Thursday morning on the UPMC Lemieux Sports activities Advanced whereas reporters and digicam operators jockeyed for place round Crosby making an attempt to get shut sufficient to listen to what he was saying.

Fortunately the locker stall beside Crosby was empty and, at 6-foot-Three, I may stand to his proper and attain over just a few individuals with my recorder. I regarded as much as see the nameplate on the stall I used to be standing in and noticed “No. 53 Teddy Blueger”.

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins prepares for a faceoff whereas taking part in the Detroit Pink Wings at Little Caesars Enviornment on April 2, 2019, in Detroit.

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The locker stall remained empty after Crosby had completed his seven-minute media scrum and I figured Blueger have to be used to staying on the ice after observe ready for the gang to go away earlier than he can lastly take his tools off.

“Truthfully, that has nothing to do with it,” Blueger stated after he got here into the locker room and sat down in his stall. “I like to remain on simply because I feel I want the work and I wish to preserve getting higher.”

Blueger picked up an help within the Penguins’ Four-1 win over the Canadiens Friday evening, giving the 25-year-old Latvian centre Eight-12-20 totals in 56 video games this season. Crosby assisted on the Penguins’ first three targets, giving him 10-24-34 totals in 28 video games.

What’s it like sitting beside Crosby daily — other than the media mobs?

“It’s been fairly superior simply seeing the best way he carries himself, the best way he prepares himself,” Blueger stated Thursday. “Clearly, speaking about hockey, seeing his perspective on the sport. I feel he sees sure issues that the remainder of us don’t actually discover or search for. So it’s fairly cool to see that type of perspective. It’s fascinating to see the small print and the stuff he notices that almost all guys don’t.”

What impresses Blueger most about Crosby on the ice?

“Simply how simple he makes it for guys round him,” Blueger stated. “His consciousness is fairly unimaginable, the place everyone seems to be and what’s happening on the rink. He’s in a position to deal with nearly any move in his skates, in his ft. His puck safety, the best way he controls the puck, controls the tempo of the sport. Simply the best way he thinks the sport. He’s type of two steps forward of everybody and his anticipation is second to none.”

Sid the Kid isn’t a kid anymore. Crosby is 32 and in his 15th NHL season. Solely three gamers on the Penguins are older: Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist and Jack Johnson, who’re 33. On Thursday morning, I questioned what number of media scrums Crosby has performed through the years and I used to be additionally amazed at how properly he handles himself, answering each query patiently and thoughtfully, not fazed in any respect by the microphones and cameras in entrance of his face.

After the scrum, Crosby caught round for an additional 10 minutes or so simply speaking hockey with just a few reporters and doing a few on-line video messages for a Penguins’ PR individual. Crosby laughed once I requested him how lengthy he had his beat-up shoulder pads, elbow pads and jock strap and he stated they return to his junior days with the Rimouski Océanic. He joked that he’d most likely really feel too gentle if he bought new tools.

If solely all professional athletes have been so good to cope with.

Crosby missed 28 video games this season due to core muscle surgical procedure to restore a sports activities hernia on Nov. 14. He hasn’t missed a beat since returning to the lineup, posting 5-12-17 totals in 11 video games whereas the Penguins have gone 7-Three-1. No disrespect to the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid, however I feel Crosby remains to be the perfect all-around participant within the NHL when he’s wholesome.

Crosby stays an all-star on and off the ice.

“There’s quite a few issues he brings to our locker room different than simply being an outstanding participant,” teammate Johnson stated. “A calmness, confidence.”

Added Blueger about Crosby: “He has no form of conceitedness … he’s the perfect participant on this planet however, in right here, he’s simply one of many guys and that makes him very approachable. He takes the time to get to know you, he comes to speak with you to see the way you’re doing and ask if you happen to want any assist with something settling in at first, issues like that. That makes an enormous distinction once you’re coming in, getting snug and feeling such as you’re a part of the staff and extra assured. That’s a cool factor about him.”

There are a whole lot of cool issues in regards to the older model of Sid the Child.