A quick hit on this Thursday for the dear readers on Day 5 of the NHL lockout:
• Sidney Crosby said at Southpointe that he still has no set plans to play in Europe during the lockout, which I take as a positive sign that he may not expect a long work stoppage.
Two thoughts on Crosby:
= He seems completely relaxed, more than at any time since arriving for camp in 2007. I can’t put my finger on the reasons, but he looks like he’s in a very good place emotionally. That would make a lost season even more tough to deal with for anybody who can appreciate what hockey means to Mister C – and, yes, through it all, that group of people still includes this reporter; there has never been a doubt that his passion for his sport rivals that of any athlete to be compensated for playing his chosen game
= Here is some math to consider about Crosby:
If there is no NHL season he will have played in just 63 (regular-season) games over a period of three seasons. He would be 26 when, presumably, playing his next NHL game.
Mario Lemieux’s best season in terms of points-per-game (2.67 ppg/160 pts in 60 games) came during the 1992-93 season, during the October of which he turned 27.
At no point during Lemieux’s first player tenure, which included legendary health battles (back, Hodgkin’s disease) did he play in fewer than 82 games – his total from 1992-93 through 1994-95, and he missed all of that latter shortened final season while on a self-imposed rest period.
So, if there are no NHL games this season, Crosby, arguably the brightest of league stars since Wayne Gretzky, will have essentially missed all but 63 games from his prime.
Lemieux’s best points-per-game season came at 27.
Only one of Gretzky’s top five seasons came before he turned 26.
This lockout is not about Crosby, but the impact of it on his career could be momentous.
• So, some of you have asked who practicing Penguins players might turn to if they are injured during one of the on-ice workouts at Southpointe. Well, there is a certain former team physician who the majority of them trust, a lot, and he’s not on the Penguins payroll anymore. Let’s just call this a more-than-educated guess that Dr. Charles Burke would take a call from the players that I can tell you he still cares very much about even though he and the local hockey club parted ways in July.
• Checking in from Magnitogorsk, Evgeni Malkin described his first KHL game as “very hard.” He also reacted favorably when I suggested his consolation might be not having a certain Ray Ban wearing geek chase him down for questions after the game.
Malkin’s line: 1 assist, 3 shots, 9-for-13 in the circle, and 22 minutes and 37 seconds.
We’ll be posting video somewhere on the Trib site, probably here: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/2639932-85/malkin-nhl-penguins-players-game-lockout-magnitogorsk-contract-khl-league#axzz26l8foQVm
• Day 5!!! At least the NHL is stuck dealing with Alberta labor laws the rest of this week and no negotiations are scheduled through Friday.