LAS VEGAS -- Sidney Crosby, a key figure Tuesday at the NHL awards show at the Encore, paused when asked to try to sum up the past year for the Penguins.
The team's Metropolitan Division title, Crosby's league scoring championship and the momentum that came with those things wilted into a blown 3-1 series lead against the New York Rangers in the second round of the playoffs and the firings of general manager Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma. Crosby was reflective, but also hopeful for the future.
"After going through all this, it's something that, hopefully, will help us, give us a bit of a boost," the center and team captain said. "Sometimes, changes need to be made. We all understand it. I'm sure if anyone understands that, Ray and Dan, it's them. It's part of hockey.
"It doesn't make it any easier, but, at the end of the day, maybe this is something that we can, hopefully, build something from this, get some momentum and find a way to have some success."
Crosby, 26, cleaned up at the awards. In addition to being recognized for winning the Art Ross Trophy as the 2013-14 scoring champion, he won his second Hart Trophy as the MVP of the NHL and the Ted Lindsay Award as the most outstanding player. It's the third time he has won the latter, which his determined in a vote of fellow players and formerly was called the Lester. B. Pearson Award. The Hart is determined in a vote by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and he was a near-unanimous winner, receiving 128 first-place votes out of 137 ballots and appearing on every ballot. Crosby first won the Hart after his second NHL season (2006), when he was still a teenager.
"I look back and, at 19, I probably took it for granted a little bit. When you win it that young, you probably expect to win it [again] maybe sooner or you might think it's a little easier than it actually is," said Crosby, who this season led the league with 104 points, including 36 goals and a league-leading 68 assists.
Crosby might have won another Hart Trophy or two between his first and this one if not for injuries that curtailed potentially dominant seasons.
"It's always easy to say what-if, but that's part of putting a whole season together, staying healthy and avoiding [being derailed by injuries]," he said. "Coming into this season, that was a big focus for me, to try to play a full season."
There were times, Crosby admitted, when he thought injuries such as a long-running concussion problem and neck injury might keep him from the chance to discuss future awards -- at the least.
"Not just sitting here, but even just playing," he said. "That definitely crossed my mind, and I think having gone through that and [come] through the other side of it, hopefully, I think I have a much greater appreciation for all this stuff."
Crosby also has had a chance to look inward after scoring one goal in 13 playoff games.
"Being one game away [from advancing to the Eastern Conference final], you can overanalyze things," he said. "We did a lot of good things. Ultimately, you need those big plays. Personally, it's disappointing I wasn't able to do that. It's not easy, and, yes, the expectations are high, but you still want to find ways to succeed. I was disappointed I wasn't able to do that."
He also accepted some responsibility for the firings.
"We all knew that there were possible changes with the way things ended," he said. "It wasn't very easy, the couple of weeks after [the playoff loss]. It was difficult. It stung for a long time."
He called it "the toughest few weeks after a season" since the Penguins lost against Detroit in the Stanley Cup final in 2008.
"That's our responsibility," he said of the players.
"Ultimately, the coach and the GM pay the price for that, but that's our responsibility. It's not a great feeling, but, at the same time, you understand that it's part of the game and you have to move on and learn from it."
And embrace some distractions, such as the awards show.
"You try to enjoy this, but I think that it's hard not to think about how things ended," Crosby said. "I did have a lot of time, and I think I did move past it."
Crosby also was named the center on the all-star team. The rest of the team: goalie Tuukka Rask of Boston, right winger Corey Perry of Anaheim, left winger Jamie Benn of Dallas and defensemen Duncan Keith of Chicago and Zdeno Chara of Boston. Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta, who as a 19-year-old had a breakthrough season as a regular in the NHL, did not make the all-rookie team.
Other award winners:
Selke Trophy (defensive forward) -- Patrice Bergeron, Boston.
Masterton Trophy (perseverance, dedication to hockey) -- Dominic Moore, New York Rangers.
Calder (rookie of the year) -- Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado
King Clancy Trophy (leadership, humanitarian) -- Andrew Ference, Edmonton.
NHL Foundation Award (community service) -- Bergeron.
Mark Messier Leadership Award -- Dustin Brown, Los Angeles.
Norris Trophy (top defenseman) -- Keith.
Jack Adams (top coach) -- Patrick Roy, Colorado.
Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship and ability) -- Ryan O'Reilly, Colorado.
General manager of the year -- Bob Murray, Anaheim.
Vezina Trophy (top goaltender) -- Rask.
Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. First Published June 24, 2014 12:00 AM