After participating in his first practice of Pens training camp - which lasted for over an hour and ended with bag skating - Sidney Crosby smiled and said he definitely needed a session like that.
Despite competing for Canada at the World Cup and playing in a bunch of games there before returning to Pittsburgh as the tournament champion, Crosby said he's looking forward to the intensity and pace of Pens training camp.
"When you're playing a bunch of games in a situation like the World Cup, a lot of it is systems," he explained. "It's not so much conditioning-oriented or necessarily individual skill-oriented. It's more trying to figure out your team systems and walking through a lot of stuff. The pace is high but it's not necessarily training camp. I think that'll be good to get some of these practices in. Guys are in great shape for a reason. They've been doing this for a little while now. It was a good tempo and fun to be back out there."
Crosby also added that being on a team filled with All-Stars and superstars, he didn't necessarily play as many quite as minutes as he would have during exhibition games.
"I think you still have to get used to playing those kinds of minutes and making sure that desperation, that urgency is there for the 20 minutes or whatever you usually play," he said. "It's a little easier to do that when you're playing 15, 16. But I think with everything else, timing and that stuff should be there a lot more."
Overall, though, Crosby still feels pretty good heading into training camp despite the short summer. He certainly looks good and like he picked up right where he left off last season as the playoff MVP, playing fantastic hockey for Team Canada and ending up as tournament MVP.
"When you're playing a lot of hockey, it's more comfortable," he said. "You just have to kind of balance rest and recovery and making sure you're ready to play. I think from everything I've heard, it's been a great camp. Guys look really good. Obviously the preseason games have shown that. I think just like everyone else, you want to make sure that you're ready."
Crosby said that he kept up with the Pens' preseason games while in Toronto, and the notoriously superstitious captain had to smile when talking about their stretch of three straight shutouts.
"It's a pretty good streak we're on right now as far as not allowing a goal against," he said before laughing and pausing to knock on wood. "Hopefully we keep it going and if we don't, then I'll take blame because I started talking about it. It's good to see, everyone looks like they're pretty familiar with how we need to play and doing some good things out there. It's nice to see and it's important, you want to have some momentum going into the season."
Both him and Carl Hagelin, who also spoke with the media for the first time since returning from the World Cup, had a good experience at the tournament. But now they're ready to turn their attention from their national teams to their NHL teams.
"A lot of familiar faces, same approaches as last year, so it's a pretty easy transition," Hagelin said. "I've been on the ice now for a while, conditioning-wise I'm right where I want to be. I'm just excited to be and be back and start playing some games here."