Late July, early August bring the slowest weeks of the hockey calendar. Players, management and staff take vacations and perhaps begin to think about training camp.
There is one issue facing the Penguins today, however.
Can superstar center Sidney Crosby still be Sid the Kid at age 20?
"Good question," general manager Ray Shero said with a slight laugh yesterday.
"I don't know. It's a nice handle. And 20 years old is still pretty young."
Crosby's whirlwind career so far has been defined not only by what he has accomplished but also by what he has done at such a young age.
As of today, he is no longer a teenage phenom.
Born 8/7/87 -- begetting his uniform No. 87 and the average salary of $8.7 million on his five-year contract extension that kicks in next year -- Crosby wakes up this morning to his 20th birthday.
"It does make me step back a little," Crosby said. "Just to have the opportunity I've had, I feel fortunate.
"I'm not sure [what it means to turn 20], though. I've always been the young guy, even before I got to the NHL. I don't know that being 19 years and 366 days is going to be any different."
Well, perhaps it will be better, considering most athletes are at their prime in their 20s.
During his two seasons in the NHL as a teenager, Crosby became the youngest ...
To win the Art Ross Trophy, ringing up 120 points in 2006-07, and first teen to win a major pro league's scoring championship.
Other than Wayne Gretzky to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
To win the Pearson Award that goes to the top player as voted by his fellow players.
To make the postseason first-team All-Star squad.
To be voted into the starting lineup for the All-Star Game.
To reach 100 points in each of his first two seasons.
To be named team captain.
"Not too many players in any sport can do what he's accomplished already," Shero said. "He's special. Very mature. His greatest days are ahead. It will be interesting following his career on and off the ice over the years."
Crosby has been as low-key off the ice as he has been high-octane on it.
His birthday celebration has been no different.
Saturday, he got together with his extended family in his hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
"With my birthday being midweek, I just decided to do it [Saturday]," he said.
Sunday, the party continued with a fishing trip.
"I'll just relax," Crosby said. "I might have a few friends down."
Although his multi-day birthday bash didn't seem to include much more exertion than it takes to blow out 20 candles on a cake, Crosby hasn't gotten away from his discipline for training.
He has been running, working out off the ice and skating a couple times a week. He said his left foot, which was broken March 16 and he played on until the Penguins were eliminated from the playoffs by Ottawa in the first round, is fine, "but the real test will come when I get hit there, not that I'm going to ask anyone to test it."
Crosby, the first overall pick in the 2005 draft who put up 75 goals and 222 points in his first two NHL seasons, is part of a rebuilt Penguins team that repeatedly has been defined as a young group with tons of potential.
Turning 20 on the heels of a season in which the team improved by 47 points to 105 and challenged for home-ice advantage in the playoffs has compelled Crosby to think of the team a little differently.
With the likelihood of just one teenager, forward Jordan Staal, on the roster for 2007-08 and many core players at or approaching their mid-20s, perhaps it is time to matriculate from being a young team with potential into a solid team ready to hit its stride.
"I think we have to set the standard high with [Staal] being the only teenager, but we are a young team," Crosby said.
NOTES -- Staal, his brother, Eric, and 12 others arrested July 21 when Eric's bachelor party got too loud are scheduled to make their first court appearance tomorrow morning in Grand Marais, Minn. All were charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process, and Jordan Staal, 18, was additionally charged with underage drinking. Eric Staal plays for the Carolina Hurricanes. ... Shero hasn't decided whether to explore a contract extension for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who is slated to earn $1.6 million this season, the second of a two-year contract. ... Shero said the Penguins will not exercise their right to sign goaltender Bobby Goepfert before an Aug. 15 deadline for college seniors. Goepfert, who played at St. Cloud State, was a third-round draft pick in 2003.Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Sidney Crosby is no longer a teenage phenom. As of today, he is 20 years old.
Click photo for larger image.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1721.