Penguins looking to 'lessen the load' on Sidney Crosby

Ian McLaren

Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby is coming off a 36-goal, 68-assist regular season - a performance that earned him the NHL's Art Ross and Hart trophies. He followed that up by scoring one goal in the playoffs (while reportedly dealing with a wrist injury) en route to the team's second-round exit at the hands of the New York Rangers. 

As such, new head coach Mike Johnston is intent on making sure the Penguins' hopes aren't pinned solely on the captain.

“We have to ensure that other players on our team take some of the responsibility off his shoulders - both in leadership and also in performance,” Johnston told the Tribune-Review. “He is the captain and he is a leader, but it doesn't all rest on Sid.”

Johnston was quick to point out the issue isn't Crosby's ability to carry a team, but rather allowing other veterans - Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, to name a few - to step up and take responsibility for the success or failure of the club.

“You don't ever question [Crosby's] work ethic," Johnston continued. "You don't ever question his commitment. For a guy his age coming into the NHL and carrying the load that he's carried, I believe he's done a phenomenal job. [But] do we have to lessen the load? Yes.”

Crosby has achieved every level of success during his time with the Penguins, but comes under fire for leading the team to only one Stanley Cup. 

The hiring of Johnston, following the firing of Dan Bylsma, represents a new era for a club looking to rediscover its "wonder years." Crosby will likely continue to do what he does best, but hopefully with a little more help from his friends.