Sidney Crosby is knocked down by Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers in early December. This kind of physical play is taking its toll on the Pittsburgh star, Don Cherry says. ((Bruce Bennet/Getty Images) )

Don Cherry says it's time for the Pittsburgh Penguins to get superstar Sidney Crosby away from all his off-ice duties so he can concentrate on just playing.

The Hockey Night in Canada commentator was referring to Crosby's current slump, which saw the star produce just one goal and 12 assists in the last dozen games entering Saturday's game with the Montreal Canadiens.

Against the Habs, Crosby had a goal and an assist.

Cherry related the Pittsburgh captain's troubles to what he found when taking over the Boston Bruins in 1974 and their superstar, Bobby Orr.

"They had him doing everything, just like Crosby," Cherry told Coach's Corner host Ron MacLean. "They had him doing promos, they had him doing before the game, they had him doing [interviews] between periods.

"It came to a head in Montreal and I went out [for warm-ups] and there was Bobby signing autographs and he never even had a warm-up."

That was when Cherry put his foot down.

"I said that's it, no more, no more interviews until after the game."

Even then it didn't stop completely.

"[Bobby] used to disappear at six o'clock and I wondered what the heck … where's he going? He was in the shower, signing dozens of sticks for the visiting team."

Crosby, who despite the goal drought is still tied for second in NHL scoring with 47 points, had 72 points in an injury-shortened 53 game season last year, and 120 in 79 games the year before that.

"I think he should get all of that [other] stuff out [of the way] and start concentrating on hockey," Cherry said of Crosby. "He doesn't look like he's got the jump."

The physicality of the centre's style and how other players deal with him is also taking a toll, Cherry said.

"The way he plays flat out, it's a tough way to play," Cherry told MacLean. "He gets abuse, he gets hit, guys knocking him around, cross-checking him, knocking him down.

"It's finally got to him, because he doesn't have the jump he had a couple of years ago."