Sidney Crosby has tried to unplug this offseason.
He's traveled across Europe for the past five weeks -- (mostly) driving across Spain, England, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria -- and just flew back to the United States on Monday in time for Wednesday's NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
He's tried to "get away" from media reports and rumors of trade talk and possible changes within the team, but he's aware of what has been said, and which names have been mentioned as potential trade candidates.
"When you lose, there's always a lot of things that are said, in rumors, possibilities," Crosby told reporters Tuesday in Las Vegas. "Everybody has got to evaluate everything that happened. I don't think you ever like hearing (trade rumors). It's not a fun part of what we do."
Change is to be expected in the offseason. Some change has already taken place, with Olli Maatta being traded to the Blackhawks for Dominik Kahun. Crosby still believes that the core has more Stanley Cups left in them.
"I think we believe in our group," Crosby said. "Obviously there's always going to be turnover. There was turnover when we won, there was turnover when we had years that didn't go as well. That's just the nature of playing, there's always a little more focus and you magnify it a bit more when you lose. I think there's a little more pressure that comes with that, and I think we understand it. There's a lot of times where there's a lot said, all these predictions, and sometimes not a lot happens. I don't think you can get caught up in that too much. I think it's definitely tough, especially when you're talking about guys who have been with the team for a really long time."
What has Sidney Crosby been up to this summer?
What does he think about trade rumors in the media?
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 19, 2019
Two of those guys who have been around a while are Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. At the end of the season, Jim Rutherford didn't want to rule out trading either player, saying "It’s only natural to look at everything. We don’t want to be that team that stays with a group too long."
It's almost certain that neither Malkin nor Letang are going anywhere this offseason. But both Malkin and Letang, at 32 years old, have just three years left on their contracts. It's not certain what the future holds, but if it were up to Crosby, the three would finish their careers together in Pittsburgh with a few more rings.
"It'd be unbelievable," Crosby said of the idea. "That's so hard to do nowadays, with so much movement with players and change and turnover in teams, and the league getting younger and younger. It's not easy to have that happen, the fact that we've won a few Stanley Cups together and still want to be able to win more. I think that's definitely something I would like to happen. But I think we all know, too, that's it part of it when you lose that everyone's got to reevaluate everything."
Crosby's had a lot of time to evaluate the way the Penguins' season ended on his own. He believes that this is the longest offseason he's ever had in his career, given both the early exit and the fact that he didn't participate in the World Championship.
While having this much time to rest and recharge can have its benefits, Crosby doesn't see it that way. He doesn't like being away from the game for this long.
"You play to play long in the playoffs," he said. "That's something where you're more than happy to deal with short summers if that's what it means. I think there's a certain aspect of being in those big games and having those fresh in your mind in September and having that mentality, and I like that. For five months, you don't really have that and you miss it. It's not necessarily as fresh in your mind when it's that far away. I think that part of it is tough."
Crosby is up against the Lightning's Nikita Kucherov and Oilers' Connor McDavid for the Hart Trophy on Wednesday. If he wins, it would be his third time winning the league's most valuable player award. He's not too optimistic about his chances, but he's happy to be nominated.
"It's an honor," Crosby said of being nominated for the award. "I'm not going to get my hopes up, there's two pretty good seasons in the group. I think it's great to be nominated and it's always an honor to be here."
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