When last he returned after a lengthy absence from the NHL spotlight, Sidney Crosby reaffirmed his awesomeness almost instantaneously. He scored his first goal on his third shift. He ended his first game with four points. He put up 12 points in eight outings.
But if the eye-popping offensive production was nothing new for the NHL’s active career leader in points per game, neither was Crosby’s bone-grinding approach.
“You watched him play and he was right back in the middle of everything, digging the puck out of the corner like a mucker,” Wendel Clark, the Maple Leafs legend, was saying the other day.
Coming from Clark, a hard-nosed son of Saskatchewan who carved out a 15-season career as a sniper and a hitter and a fighter, that assessment could be considered a compliment. But Clark’s observation came with a caveat.
“As a hockey player, he can’t play that way all the time,” Clark said of Crosby. “Maybe you can do that in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final, but you can’t do that in game five of 82. Nobody wants to hear that, the fans don’t want to hear that, but at this point in Sidney’s career, it’s about trying to look after yourself on the ice. He’s got to think about longevity.”