Sidney Crosby was on Hockey Night In Canada Radio on Monday to talk about his recovery in the off-season, as well as what's motivating his Penguins this season.
Recovering from injuries that sidelined him for most of the 2011-12 season, the Penguins captain said his off-season training regimen was a success and he's ready to go for this shortened campaign.
"I feel good, with skating over the lockout and a healthy summer, it was good," he told Elliotte Friedman. "It's exciting to be out there competing again, [I] may not be in midseason form… with time hopefully things start to become easier, but I feel healthy."
It's widely known Crosby went into the off-season in 2009 looking to improve his face-off skills. After that, he wanted to be a more dangerous scorer. But what part of his game did he target this time around?
"Speed-wise, I needed to get back a step that I had before all that time I missed," Crosby said. "I wasn't where I wanted to be."
Another place he and the Penguins didn't want to be? Out of last year's Stanley Cup playoffs following the conference quarter-finals. That loss to the rival Flyers is something Crosby believes to be the best motivation for his team this season.
"Losing to Philadelphia in first round was something that didn't sit well with any of us," he said. "We felt like we had a team that could make a run. Philadelphia played well, you have to give them give credit, but we didn't answer the bell.
"There was lots of time to absorb that [loss], I was training in California in June and saw the Kings hoist the [Stanley] Cup … it was a good thing, [there's] lots of motivation there."
He almost didn't get the chance exact revenge on his rivals.
With the lockout threatening to shutter the NHL for the entire season, Crosby said there was a point where he was considering playing in Europe.
"[I was] pretty close after that meeting in New York when things looked like they weren't going so well," Crosby said. "It was something I started to consider.
"I need to play hockey, I haven't really played a lot and it was something I really started to consider it around then."
Luckily for both Crosby and some rowdy Winnipeg Jets fans, the season was salvaged. That gave them both some time to bond this past week when the Penguins faced the Jets.
Crosby joked that he got to experience both a real Canadian winter — he walked to the MTS Centre before Friday's game — as well as passionate Canadian hockey fans who, he was told, discussed on a local radio station what to chant at Crosby to get him rattled.
"I've played in some rough buildings, but with them there seems to be a bit of humour to it as well," he said. "They're not trying to be too intimidating... [it's] a little bit different than Philadelphia."