It’s been a while since Sidney Crosby left Pittsburgh for the summer, and a lot has happened since then. So when we were in his hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia covering the inaugural Sidney Crosby Hockey School, we had the chance to catch up with the captain and get his thoughts on numerous topics, including Phil Kessel, offseason training and summer vacations in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview.
How much time do you spend in Nova Scotia during the offseason? At least a month and a half to two months. This year I’ll go back to Pittsburgh a little bit earlier with the practice rink getting all set up and some new guys coming in early. Excited to see the guys. You get used to seeing them every day. With guys coming in early for kids’ school and stuff like that, we should have a good chunk of guys there. So I’m excited to see everyone and kind of get back into the routine again.
Are you looking forward to meeting the new guys? Had you known any of them previously? I haven’t. Have just communicated with a few via text over the summer. You always have that turnover. It’s just something that you have to deal with now in the NHL; there’s always kind of the changes in the roster. It’s never easy to see guys leave, but at the same time, the energy that the new guys bring is really important too. Everyone who comes is always excited to come to Pittsburgh. They know they’re going to have a chance to win and it’s up to us as a group to come together and give ourselves that opportunity.
We have to ask you about Phil Kessel. Obviously a lot of fans are excited about that. How excited are you as a center to have a guy like that potentially play on your wing? I think that we’ve got a ton of depth and he just adds to that. We all know he can score. He’s got great speed and hopefully that’s something where when they’re trying to cover one guy, someone else is going to be open. And I think with the depth that we have, it shouldn’t be easy to match up against us. So whatever the line combinations are, whoever ends up playing together, we’re going to have some really good balance there and he’s going to add a lot to that.
You talked about the depth. That’s one of many moves Jim Rutherford has made this offseason to address that. What does that say to you as players, him wanting to make this a better team and going out there and taking the action to get that done? It’s difficult. It’s not easy to make moves. He’s found a way to make our team better and improve our team. As players, you want to respond. So I think it’s up to us to come to camp ready and make sure we get a good start and start things on the right foot. But like last year, with a little bit of change, you really have to focus on that and be aware of it. It’s not easy just to bring in new guys and have everything be smooth. So we’ll all be together in that, whether it’s players or coaching staff, and we’ll find a way to make sure we’re ready for Game 1.
What did you learn from last year that might help you do that this year? I think just the importance of guys coming together quick is guys feeling comfortable. That’s the biggest thing, is when guys step in the dressing room after they’ve come from a new team or juniors or university or whatever the case is, they need to feel comfortable right away. So just making sure that happens. That’s something you do collectively as a group and as a staff and as an organization, I think that’s something we’ve always done really well and we expect the same thing this year.
How’s your training been going and have you been working out with fellow first-overall draft pick and Cole Harbour native Nathan MacKinnon? We don’t work out together every day, which is probably a good thing. It’s pretty competitive (laughs). We both have different things we try to work on. The odd time we get put together in group stuff and it’s good. He’s obviously been one of the fastest guys in the NHL, and is young (laughs), so that combination is good when you’re trying to push yourself in the summer. It’s nice to have a local guy around that’s training. We’re lucky to have a good chunk of guys here that are playing in the NHL and training together, so it makes for some good skates and makes it easier to get ready for the season.
How nice is it to have him here doing this camp with you and going around giving back to the community together? It’s nice to share that with him. We can obviously relate to growing up here and how special it is and tight the hockey community is. I think just the fact that you have somebody that went through the same things, went through the same tournaments, it’s really nice to share that. I’ve always loved coming back here, and to be able to do something together to give back is really special.
You two went to Europe in May with Team Canada for the World Championship. Have you been on any other vacations this summer? I stayed over there for probably about 10 days afterwards, so that was nice. It’s a long ways to get over there, so since I was already over there for the World Championship I thought I might as well just stay over for a bit. Didn’t take too much time off. You’ve got a long summer; so you’ve got to kind of pace yourself a bit. But it’s hard just to turn it off. You want to get ready for the next season. So just enjoy training, enjoy being home. It does really go by quick. It’s hard to believe in a few weeks I’m going to be going back. I’m excited about it, but it definitely goes by quick. This camp has been fun and I’m sure once this comes to an end, it’ll be a matter of just packing and getting ready to move back to Pittsburgh.