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Playoff-less Penguins want to sign up Sidney Crosby long-term. Might be easy part of busy offseason

Sport

Playoff-less Penguins want to sign up Sidney Crosby long-term. Might be easy part of busy offseason
Sport

Sport

Playoff-less Penguins want to sign up Sidney Crosby long-term. Might be easy part of busy offseason

2024-04-20 00:42 Last Updated At:04:01

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins eventually became the team Kyle Dubas envisioned in his first season as the club's general manager/director of hockey operations.

That evolution, however, came a touch too late for Sidney Crosby and company to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh's spirited 8-2-3 closing kick left it outside of the postseason looking in for a second straight year.

That's simply not good enough, and Dubas knows it.

“When things don’t turn out well, that falls on the person in my spot,” Dubas said Friday. “I take responsibility. It’s my job to make sure we have the right people on staff to get us where we want to go.”

The Penguins were undone by the NHL's 31st-ranked power play and five months of inconsistency. With the team languishing in the standings in early March, Dubas opted to trade Stanley Cup-winning forward Jake Guentzel. Pittsburgh fell flat in the immediate aftermath, putting the Penguins in a hole they couldn't climb out of in time.

“If we had shaken the doldrums a little bit earlier, we may have been in a different position,” Dubas said.

Instead, the playoffs will begin on Saturday without the Penguins, a postseason fixture from 2007-22. Dubas now faces a long summer trying to figure out how to surround the core of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Erik Karlsson with enough talent to close the gap.

One of the first items on Dubas' to-do list is locking up Crosby. The future Hall of Famer is eligible for an extension starting July 1. Dubas has made it clear there are no plans to move on from Crosby, though he declined to get into specifics about what a new deal might look like.

“I think he should finish his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins,” Dubas said Friday. "How long that is? I’m not going to put any limits on Sidney Crosby. He’s capable of great things and is still performing at an extraordinarily high level.”

It certainly looks that way. Crosby scored 42 goals — his highest since 2016 — and added 52 assists to average at least a point a game for the 19th straight season. It tied Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky for the longest streak of point-a-game production in NHL history.

The franchise icon turns 37 in August. While Crosby says he still takes things “year to year," he showed no significant signs of slowing down but was vague when asked how much longer he might play.

“Obviously, at my age, and things like that, there will be a lot of factors," Crosby said. "But as far as my game, I don’t look any differently at how much longer I can play based off that. It’s always just evaluating my game for what it is, not my age.”

Crosby is set to enter the final season of the 12-year, $104.4 million contract he signed in the summer of 2012, a bargain for one of the greatest all-around players in league history. Crosby isn't so concerned about money as making a run at a fourth Stanley Cup.

The Penguins haven't advanced past the first round since 2018. It's a fact that's painfully clear to Crosby, Dubas and others in the organization.

While veteran center Jeff Carter is retiring after 20 seasons, there's a strong chance most of the pieces around Crosby will remain the same. Letang — who spent all season dealing with an undisclosed injury — figures to be back. Malkin and Karlsson are expected back, too.

The biggest question may be in goal. The Penguins signed Tristan Jarry to a five-year deal last summer, only to have Jarry spend the season's final weeks watching from the bench while backup Alex Nedeljkovic made 13 straight starts. Nedeljkovic is set to become a free agent, though he's stated his desire to stay. Joel Blomqvist is finishing up a promising season with Pittsburgh's American Hockey League affiliate and at 22 may be ready to move up.

Still, Dubas expressed optimism that Jarry — whose six shutouts tied for the NHL lead — will find a way to bounce back.

“I’m excited to see how Tristan responds,” he said.

Dubas is optimistic young forwards Vasily Ponomarev and Ville Koivunen, whom the club received from Carolina the Guentzel trade, will push for a roster spot. The same goes for former first-round pick Sam Poulin, who was called up late in the season only to battle an illness that limited his playing time.

Regardless of who is on the roster when Pittsburgh reports for training camp in September, the Penguins know watching the Stanley Cup playoffs go on without them can't become the norm.

“Hopefully, this is something that having gone through this year will make us better," Crosby said.

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) congratulates goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) after defeating the Detroit Red Wings in an NHL hockey game, Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) congratulates goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) after defeating the Detroit Red Wings in an NHL hockey game, Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) shoots as Boston Bruins' Charlie McAvoy (73) defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) shoots as Boston Bruins' Charlie McAvoy (73) defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros, right, makes a save in front of Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros, right, makes a save in front of Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) looks up at the scoreboard as the New York Islanders celebrate a goal by Simon Holmstrom, third from left, during the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) looks up at the scoreboard as the New York Islanders celebrate a goal by Simon Holmstrom, third from left, during the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

HOUSTON (AP) — As the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency toured the Houston area on Tuesday to assess the damage from last week’s deadly storms, local officials reassured residents still without power that their lights would be back on and they could soon begin rebuilding their lives.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire said crews with CenterPoint Energy had been working hard to restore power to residents dealing with temperatures of about 90 degrees (32 Celsius) and heat indexes approaching 100 degrees (38 Celsius).

At the height of the power outages, nearly 1 million people in the Houston area were without electricity. By Tuesday evening, that was down to less than 95,000.

“We’re on top of it. No one is being neglected,” Whitmire said.

The widespread destruction of last Thursday’s storms left at least eight dead and brought much of Houston to a standstill. Thunderstorms and hurricane-force winds tore through the city, reducing businesses and other structures to piles of debris, uprooting trees and shattering glass from downtown skyscrapers. A tornado also touched down near the northwest Houston suburb of Cypress.

Some downtown streets remained closed as crews continued cleaning up glass as the strong winds damaged 3,250 windows on high-rise buildings. Officials said it could take months to repair all the windows.

The deadly winds tore through a wide swath of Harris County, where Houston is located, causing damage and knocking out the power in both lower income and wealthier neighborhoods.

Last week’s storms took place as the Houston area and several Texas counties to the north were still recovering from flooding caused by heavy rainfall in late April and early May.

FEMA has approved small business loans and federal disaster assistance, which can help pay for temporary housing and repairs, for both weather events.

More than 48,000 people in the affected counties that were declared disaster areas have already applied for assistance, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said Tuesday. The agency has already issued more than $1 million in help to residents.

“We know that thousands in the region are still without power. So again, I encourage you to continue to check in on your loved ones, your neighbors, your vulnerable individuals in your communities and make sure that they’re OK,” Criswell said.

Lisa Reed, a teacher who lives in the Cloverleaf neighborhood in east Harris County, had been without power for four days before finally getting it back Monday evening.

“I felt exhilarated. It was real good to be just back in my own home,” Reed said.

But Reed said one of her daughters and her son, who both live nearby, were still without power on Tuesday. Even with the power back on, some of Reed’s neighbors were dealing with sparking wires and other electrical problems.

“It’s frustrating seeing people struggle. You wish you could do more,” she said. “Everyone doesn’t have the resources.”

Harris County Commissioner Lesley Briones, whose home still didn’t have power on Tuesday, said the deadly storms have had a severe impact on many lower-income residents.

In one area in the Spring Branch neighborhood in northwest Harris County, many damaged apartment complexes are “completely unlivable” with damaged roofs and debris that is not being cleaned up by landlords or owners. Briones said many of the families in these complexes are living paycheck to paycheck.

“The choice is to stay in these substandard, unlivable conditions or be homeless. And so, we are working actively on the long-term legal issues,” she said.

Michelle Hundley, a spokesperson for CenterPoint Energy, said the utility provider still expected to restore power to more than 90% of customers by Wednesday. If someone didn’t have power by Wednesday, it would most likely be due to damaged equipment at their home that the homeowner would need to fix.

“Certainly our linemen and all of our employees are very diligent in working to make sure that your electricity is up and running, and we will do the absolute best that we can,” Hundley said.

Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said some underserved communities might feel left out “because they see lights in nicer-looking neighborhoods go up. I just want to say you’re not forgotten. You’re not left behind.”

Authorities had initially reported the deadly storms were being blamed for at least seven deaths. On Sunday, authorities raised the total to eight to include a man who died from carbon monoxide poisoning while running a generator after his power went out.

Follow Juan A. Lozano: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, fourth from left, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms the previous week at Spring Branch in Houston, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, fourth from left, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms the previous week at Spring Branch in Houston, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, center, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms with Houston Mayor John Whitmire, right, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, center, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms with Houston Mayor John Whitmire, right, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell talks to parents while visiting damaged Sinclair Elementary School, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell talks to parents while visiting damaged Sinclair Elementary School, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, center, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms at Spring Branch in Houston, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, center, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms at Spring Branch in Houston, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell joins Houston elected officials in a press conference regarding recovery and assistance after last week's storms, Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at Fondé Community Center in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell joins Houston elected officials in a press conference regarding recovery and assistance after last week's storms, Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at Fondé Community Center in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee uses a portable fan provided by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's staff while visiting damaged Sinclair Elementary School, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee uses a portable fan provided by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's staff while visiting damaged Sinclair Elementary School, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

From front left, Francisco Sánchez Jr., associate administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Disaster Recovery & Resilience, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo visit Sinclair Elementary School after it was damaged by severe storms from the previous week, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

From front left, Francisco Sánchez Jr., associate administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Disaster Recovery & Resilience, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo visit Sinclair Elementary School after it was damaged by severe storms from the previous week, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Utility trucks line Grovewood Lane to assist recovery from last week's severe storms, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Utility trucks line Grovewood Lane to assist recovery from last week's severe storms, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

People affected by recent severe storms wait in line for assistance at a FEMA mobile unit Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch Family Development Center in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

People affected by recent severe storms wait in line for assistance at a FEMA mobile unit Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch Family Development Center in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, blue FEMA hat, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms with Houston Mayor John Whitmire, to her right, and Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones, to her left, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, blue FEMA hat, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms with Houston Mayor John Whitmire, to her right, and Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones, to her left, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Lisa Reed, a teacher, sits outside her home in the Harris County neighborhood of Cloverleaf near Houston on Sunday, May 19, 2024. Reed said she sat outside because it was too hot to be inside since her home was still without electricity because of last week's storms in the Houston area. The powerful storms knocked down a tree in Reed's front yard, smashing it through the windshield of a family truck. (AP Photo/ Juan A. Lozano)

Lisa Reed, a teacher, sits outside her home in the Harris County neighborhood of Cloverleaf near Houston on Sunday, May 19, 2024. Reed said she sat outside because it was too hot to be inside since her home was still without electricity because of last week's storms in the Houston area. The powerful storms knocked down a tree in Reed's front yard, smashing it through the windshield of a family truck. (AP Photo/ Juan A. Lozano)

FILE - Glass falls from above as workers clean out shattered glass at the Wells Fargo building as clean up from the previous week's storm continues in downtown Houston, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, file)

FILE - Glass falls from above as workers clean out shattered glass at the Wells Fargo building as clean up from the previous week's storm continues in downtown Houston, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, file)

FILE - Workers clean out shattered glass at the Wells Fargo building as clean up from the previous week's storm continues in downtown Houston, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, file)

FILE - Workers clean out shattered glass at the Wells Fargo building as clean up from the previous week's storm continues in downtown Houston, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, file)

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