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Sidney Crosby Sits Down with ESPN

The captain did an interview ahead of the Penguins' opener, which will be the first nationally televised NHL game on the network since 2004

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Just like the rest of Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby breathed a sigh of relief after the Steelers defeated Denver on Sunday at Heinz Field to improve to 2-3 on the season.

"We needed that one yesterday," said Crosby, who lauded the performances of fellow Canadian Chase Claypool and Najee Harris. "Glad to see them get it. Obviously a big win for them. We're always following them close. We went to the home opener. It's fun to see them have success. I've been here for years when they've won, and this city is behind them all the time."

The Penguins captain recorded an interview with ESPN that was originally set to air during their MNF broadcast of Baltimore-Indianapolis, so of course, he talked some football. But mostly, Crosby previewed the 2021-22 season ahead of the Penguins' matchup with the Lightning on Tuesday at 7:30 PM on ESPN, which will be the first nationally televised NHL game on the network since 2004. 

Crosby will not play in that contest as he recovers from a wrist procedure he underwent on Sep. 8 that has an expected recovery timeline of six weeks minimum, but told ESPN's Steve Levy he's "hopefully a week or two" from being ready to play.

"We'll see how things progress here, but started to shoot and stickhandle a little bit, which has been nice," said Crosby, who began practicing with the team on Saturday. "It's coming."

When Crosby makes his season debut, it will mark his 17th NHL campaign, where he is just 14 goals away from 500. The notoriously superstitious superstar skillfully deflected answering Levy's question about the fast-approaching milestone, but when it came to how much longer we get to watch Crosby play, he went into a little more detail.

"I hope for a long time," Crosby said before adding with a laugh, "We'll see. The game's not getting any slower, so speed is obviously a huge thing. That's such a huge factor. But I'd love to play forever and we'll see how long I can play here. I'm hoping at least another four years there. That would be great."

Here are some of the other topics Crosby touched on…

On what position he would like to play in football:

"I don't know if I'd be great at it, but I'd love to be a running back. It's not the easiest position in the world, but to have the ball in your hands pretty often, it's a tough position. Those guys are tough as nails doing what they do on a nightly basis. But yeah, I would say I'd love to give running back a try, just to see what they're doing."

On how he's handled life since the pandemic:

"I think like everybody, we've had to adapt to some different things. Life has been different for everybody, whether you play hockey or just the world in general. But I think this year, there's some normalcy coming back. It'll be great to have fans in the stands, and to have that energy and normalcy will be huge. It feels like it's starting to get back to normal, but there's no doubt there was a couple seasons that were a little different, and I think everybody's excited to get back going."

On the Penguins' potential this season:

"We've got a tough division, obviously. A lot of teams have made some moves. I think every year, that's the challenge, just finding ways to be consistent. We came off a tough playoff loss there last year against a good Islanders team, but it's tough to say… it'll be quite the race in our division and I think similar to last year, if we build on that, we'll have success."

On approaching 500 goals:

'I think like any milestone, you try not to think about it. Tend to reflect after the fact with things like that. But I think when you get close, it's something you want to get. it's a great number and it's a sign I've been playing for a long time, too (laughs). Just something I think you want to get when you get close."

On if Alex Ovechkin can catch Wayne Gretzky's all-time goals record:

"It's definitely doable. There's not many guys who have an opportunity or that are even in striking distance of something like that. So it tells you how consistent he's been. But he's capable of doing itt. You look at his numbers, you look at what he's done over the years, the way he's still playing. He's definitely right there. It'll be fun to watch here to see how close he gets and if he does one day pass Wayne."

On the Seattle Kraken, who will debut as the NHL's 32nd franchise:

"I haven't ever been to Seattle, but from everyone I've talked to, I've only ever heard great things about it. You see their fans at the Seahawks games, so you see what kind of place that is and how much they support the team there. I've heard stories from other teams that have played there. I'm sure they're going to support it well. Knowing some guys that are there now, they love it. Can definitely feel the support. It will be an exciting place and you don't always get the luxury of that. You play in a lot of the same buildings and that type of thing, but having the chance to go to a new building, new atmosphere, that'll be exciting for us."

On the NHL returning to the Winter Olympics in 2022:

"I think it's exciting. It's something whether you're a hockey player or any athlete, having the opportunity to play in the Olympics is something unique and special. I think once you get there and see the product, best on best, best players in the world competing against one another and playing for their country, it's pretty special. For guys that have experienced that, they understand that, and guys who haven't, they want to be a part of that. I think it's great for fans and great for hockey in general."

On the next generation of NHL superstars:

"There's a lot of guys there. You go through (Connor) McDavid, (Nate) MacKinnon, you look at what they've done over the course of their careers so far. (Leon) Draisaitl is right there, (Auston) Matthews… the list can go on and on. A lot of guys to be excited about that have accomplished a lot, so it's an exciting time, I think, for the league. You're seeing a lot of skill and a lot of guys that are playing some great hockey."

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