Captain Sidney Crosby welcomes the penguins back to normal

Monday introduced a new experience to Sidney Crosby.

He asked someone out on a date to go home.

To be clear: He helped someone with this task.

Crosby helped re-establish a tradition of Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday as he and several of his colleagues personally delivered them to area ticket holders.

One of Crosby’s stops was in West View, where Will Jackson, a 16-year-old sophomore who serves as the captain of the North Hills junior hockey team, decided to use his guest.

On the back porch, Jackson Crosby asked Crosby to put up a sign asking him to be his next homecoming dance date. The duo snapped some photos that quickly surfaced on social media.

“Creative,” Crosby said. “I love her. We hope he gets the answer he was looking for.”

Beyond that, everything looked typical of Crosby. It is so welcomed.

Having been unable to make those deliveries for the past two years due to the pandemic, Crosby is content to return to a tradition of franchising in some form going back to the mid-2000s.

“It’s still normal,” Crosby said. “We’ve been doing it for a long time. There are no actual tickets anymore so it feels a little different. But, yeah, it’s something we’ve been doing for a long time, so yeah, it feels natural.”

Another normal feel is Crosby and his old teammates — Evgeny Malkin and Chris Letang — gathered at Cranberry for a handful of casual skates before their 17th boot camp together.

Considering Letang and Malkin—not to mention not mentioning anything about others like Bryan Rust and Rickard Rakell—entering this season with an uncertain future as unrestricted free agents pending, Crosby wasn’t sure if his friends, who might also be family members, were At this point, they will. To be by his side for the 2022-23 season.

But all four re-signed for the season and brought a measure of relief to Crosby.

“Just wait,” Crosby said when asked what it was like observing the penguins out of season from his point of view. “Seeing what’s going on and hoping it’s going well. I’d say it was just uncertainty. That’s the best word to describe it. You’re just not sure what’s going to happen. You’re trying to be optimistic.”

“You never know with situations like this when it comes to contracts and negotiations. But the fact that it’s over and we can move on with it, that’s cool. It was a big story, but it’s not. We’ve been playing together for a long time, so naturally, I’m honest with you. It doesn’t look any different than it does in any year.”

The only thing that felt different this summer for Crosby was being a guest at the Stanley Cup party instead of hosting one.

In August, Colorado Avalanche captain Nathan McKinnon, a native of Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia, celebrated his first Stanley Cup championship. After attending a few of Crosby’s meetings for the trophy, he insisted that Crosby be in his place.

“People were really excited, obviously proud of what he’s accomplished,” Crosby said. “You want to enjoy it. You want to host it. But you want to be the person who hosts it too. It’s been a good two days. I’m so happy for it. It’s been a great time everyone had. That’s the best way to describe it.”

Desire might be another way to describe it.

“It’s a good reminder of how close people are. You see his family and his friends. The people who are a part of him feel like they’ve won it too. You see it up close when you’re on the other side of the party like that. It was great to see. It’s something that makes you even more excited about wanting it.” in doing it again.”

But given the futility of the Penguins in pursuit of that goal—they haven’t won a playoff series for the past four years—what gives Crosby and the company confidence that they can fulfill those ambitions and remain Stanley Cup contenders?

“Look at the last year, we played a very good team (at the New York Rangers during the playoffs) and did some good things,” said Crosby, who turned 35 in August. “We haven’t finished the series but we’ve done enough good things without doing it, that we’re definitely really there and we could have had it. There’s optimism because of that. We’ve played hockey really well. We’ve had instances where we’ve gone out guys and found ways to win. You have to do it.” Constantly. No guarantees. This is the truth.

“But with that, we have proven that we can be a good team. It does not get easier. But I think we are motivated. We definitely have a good group that has proven that we can be a good hockey team. We have to find a way to beat the hump.”

Seth Rorabo is a Tribune Review writer. You can contact Seth via email at srorabaugh@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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