Sidney Crosby works the puck up the ice May 7 against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in New York.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
He is not, Sidney Crosby admits, particularly fond of change.
He prefers things to be stable and familiar and predictable.
But he also understands that failure and disappointment have a price. And that sometimes, it can be steep.
While Crosby didn’t necessarily anticipate an offseason quite as chaotic as the one the Penguins experienced this summer — when general manager Ray Shero, coach Dan Bylsma and assistant coaches Tony Granato and Todd Reirden were fired and a number of established players left the organization — he figured a fifth consecutive playoff loss to a lower-seeded opponent might have major repercussions.
“I knew, obviously, everyone wasn’t pleased with the way things happened,” Crosby said after an informal workout Wednesday at Consol Energy Center. “At that point, you don’t know what’s going to happen and you know there are going to be changes, but to what extent, I didn’t really even think about it.
“I knew everyone was going to have to answer for it, so to speak. It’s just something you have to deal with when you don’t win, and the expectation is [high]. It’s never a fun time.”
Bylsma has been replaced by Mike Johnston, who will be Crosby’s fourth coach in the NHL. He broke in under Eddie Olczyk before playing for Michel Therrien and Bylsma.
His relationship with Johnston is in its embryonic stages, but Crosby seems impressed by the way Johnston has approached his first few months on the job, citing the new coach’s “calm demeanor” and the way he has tried to connect with his new players in the offseason.
“We’ve met a couple of times,” Crosby said. “I think he just wants to get to know all the guys as much as he can.
“Hockey is all the same language once you get on the ice, but I think he wants to get to know guys personally. It was great by him to do that.”
How Johnston will mesh with his personnel, including Crosby, on a professional level remains to be seen. It also is impossible to predict the exact impact newcomers such as defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, forwards Patric Hornqvist, Steve Downie, Blake Comeau and Nick Spaling, and goalie Thomas Greiss will have in the 2014-15 season.
Crosby said he expects all to make meaningful contributions “in their own way,” but pointed to Hornqvist as one who might prove to be an especially valuable addition.
“When you think of playoffs and grit, I think Hornqvist is a guy who’s really tough around the net, competes really hard,” Crosby said. “That’s the way we all need to play.
“The more guys who compete and battle for every inch out there, the more chance you’re going to have good results. The way he competes every night, if we have a lot of guys doing the same thing every night, you give yourself a pretty good chance.”
Although the Penguins haven’t reached the Stanley Cup final since winning a Cup in 2009, Crosby said he doesn’t think they’re “very far, to be honest” from competing for a championship.
“We definitely have to find a way to get over that hump and be more of a playoff team,” he said. “We did a really good job a couple of years ago of getting to the  conference final, then didn’t raise our game to that next level when we needed to, when teams get better and better with each round.”
The Penguins, he said, must learn to raise their play when the stakes go up — “Elevating your game when it needs to be elevated is something that winning teams, that’s a characteristic they have” — and he suggested that perhaps the franchise’s summer of upheaval will make that possible.
“I’m a guy who doesn’t like change,” Crosby said. “It’s never easy. But, when I look back at different experiences I’ve had, sometimes change has ended up working out to be pretty good.”
NOTES — The training-camp schedule includes two workouts Sept. 20 at Consol Energy Center open to the public, with groups taking the ice at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. … Right winger Pascal Dupuis, coming off major knee surgery, is expected to get medical clearance to have contact in camp, though perhaps not for the start of on-ice drills Sept. 19. … Forward Ty Murovich of Mt. Lebanon accepted a professional tryout contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He split last season between Orlando of the ECHL and Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Iowa and played two games with the Baby Penguins in 2010-11.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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