Sydor plans to be another voice of experience for the Penguins
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Darryl Sydor has played almost 1,100 games in the National Hockey League.
It only took a few hundred, though, for him to grasp one of the game's great truths: That there is no guarantee success in one season will carry over to the next.
That reality registered with Sydor when he appeared in the 1993 Stanley Cup final about a year and a half after making his NHL debut with Los Angeles, then sat out the playoffs for four springs in a row.
"I learned the hard way," he said yesterday. "You don't want to have to do that. I think everybody's aware of that. It was a special regular season [for the Penguins] last year and as long as you take it and learn from it, you just have to move forward."
His new club might want to remember Sydor's observation in coming months. The Penguins made a 47-point improvement -- fourth-largest in NHL history -- in 2006-07, and the prevailing sentiment in hockey circles seems to be that they should at least equal, if not build on, that success during the coming winter.
That feeling isn't entirely unfounded, given the personnel the Penguins have assembled in recent years, but the point is there isn't an automatic carryover even after the most productive of seasons.
"You can't just [assume] that it's going to be a great day, every day," Sydor said. "You're going to have to work for what you get. That's what they did last year."
Sydor, who signed with the Penguins as a free agent earlier this month, has won titles with Dallas and Tampa Bay, and his intangibles might mean as much to this team as his talent.
For while the Penguins have some exceptionally gifted young players, most of their core players have limited experience, which means veterans such as Gary Roberts, Mark Recchi and Sydor have more responsibility for leadership than they might on other clubs.Pam Panchak, Post-Gazette
Darryl Sydor met the local media yesterday for the first time since signing with the Penguins.
Click photo for larger image.
By the numbers
Darryl Sydor's career
All have embraced that facet of their job description so far, and Roberts and Recchi seemed to have had a good rapport with their younger teammates last season. Maintaining that will be critical so that the roster doesn't cleave into cliques, with younger players drifting away from the older ones.
Even if that would be a byproduct of benign causes -- things like different outside interests, tastes in music, etc. -- it could curdle a team's chemistry, shredding the bonds that are an important part of most winning clubs.
"If you have the right group, you don't have that problem," Sydor said. "And from what I hear, you don't have that problem here. The old guys like being around the young guys -- they make us feel young -- and the young guys want to hear stories and stuff like that from the old guys."
Sydor likened the Penguins' collection of skilled forwards to the one in Tampa when he joined the Lightning a few months before it won the Cup in 2004 -- "A lot of energy, a lot of guys who can move the puck and skate and were very crafty" -- but doesn't seem inclined to evaluate his new teammates in an effort to determine just how close the Penguins are to being a serious contender.
"I'll just sit back and read some players and listen," he said. "I'm not a guy who's going to make judgments or calls [about personnel]. I'm just going to go out and do my thing."
First Published July 18, 2007 11:06 pm