Dupuis, Cooke talk the end of #CrosbyWatch


Reaction from Penguins players on the impending return of team captain Sidney Crosby, who will play Monday night for the first time since Jan. 5:



ON HOW HE KNEW IT WAS TIME: “We’ve been, as you know, thinking it was close forever. I guess he’s had some really good days and it’s just time. I think he’s just perfectly fine now. Winning like we did gave him some time to get to where he needs to be. The last week and a half, after the West Coast trip, I could see the level go up a couple of notches. It’s intensity, that battle level. He was getting into those close one-on-one battles, poking pucks away with the stick, and just doing everything with that Sid intensity. That’s when I knew he was close, closer than ever.”

ON HOW THIS AFFECTS TEAM DYNAMIC: “We can’t get caught up thinking, ‘Sid’s back, he’ll score five a game and that will be it.’ He’s one piece of the puzzle, maybe the biggest piece, but just one that makes our system successful.”

ON HIS EXPECTAIONS FOR CROSBY’S FIRST GAME: “You know, honestly, it’s Sidney Crosby. He has that history of doing big things in big moments. This is a big one for him. Ask me about it after the game, but I don’t think anybody is going to be disappointed.”



ON HOW HE LEARNED THE NEWS: “I found out on the Pens web site today. It’s been my impression he’s been close for a long time, that it could be any day. I don’t think he was leading people on. It’s my opinion he was close and at end of the day he would know when it was time.”

ON THE IMPACT ON THE TEAM DYNAMIC: “There’s going to be some people that have less ice time. That will have to be an adjustment. It doesn’t change anything. He plays the way we want to play the game. Without question he does it with more skill, more flare than the rest of us. At end of the day we’re all trying to accomplish the same thing. That’s been a huge thing, our mentality, the last year and a half. We’ve just played the way we knew how to play.”

ON FINALLY HAVING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER: “Everyone just kind of almost succumbed to the fact that we had a three-headed monster and we’d just be without one of them all the time. That’s how it felt the last 14 months because (Jordan) Staal didn’t start last season. But it’s exciting to have all three in the lineup. I’m not going to lie.”

ON THE OPPORTUNITY AT HAND: “I truly believe that since before the salary-cap era, and especially after, that there is so much movement, and to have a core group of guys together for this many years together – that goes almost unheard of. Management has done a great job keeping this together, maintaining a success level. Winning in 2009 and having the last two years finish the way they did, it only makes this that much more, not urgent, but there is a realization within this group there is no better time than now. Who knows what happens next year?”