NASHVILLE — Sidney Crosby calmly walked through the bland, gray event level at Bridgestone Arena carrying 34 and a half pounds of silver. He shuffled through the hallways, finally reaching the narrow passageway that leads to the visitors locker room.
The best hockey player in the world right now was carrying the Stanley Cup, the most famous trophy in sports, waiting to celebrate with his teammates. But a crowd was gathered outside the Pittsburgh Penguins’ room. Politely and quietly, Crosby slowly made his way through the horde, careful not to bang into anyone.
— Matt Alvarez (@MAlvarezFOX17) June 12, 2017
Crosby, 29, had just secured his spot as one of handful of truly elite players in NHL after capturing his third Stanley Cup, as the Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators in six games here on Sunday.
“He’s now in that group of the top three, four all-time greats,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said.
In the past 365 days Crosby has won two Stanley Cups and two Conn Smythe Trophies as the playoff MVP, a World Cup of Hockey championship and tournament MVP award with Team Canada, and the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal-scorer in the 2016-17 regular season.
But try asking him about all that.
Sid and his hardware. pic.twitter.com/p8bPSbAbXi
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 12, 2017
“You have a small window to play and to have a career,” Crosby, the Penguins captain, said after the game, flanked by the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe. “You just want to try to make the best of it.”
“I am just really happy to be part of this group,” he added.
So far, Crosby has done a pretty decent job of making the best of it. If his list of accomplishments in the past year took up a lot of space, prepare for a long paragraph. His career has included all those Cups, four conference championships, the aforementioned Conn Smythes, two league MVP Hart Trophies — with a third possibly coming next week at the NHL Awards — two Rocket Richards as the league’s leading goal-scorer, two Art Ross Trophies for pacing the NHL in points, a World Junior championship goal medal, a World Championship goal medal, and two Olympic goal medals.
There is hardly anything Crosby hasn’t won, aside from the ire of opposing fans.
“I don’t know that I’ve been around a hockey player that has the work ethic that Sid has,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said near midnight. “He has a willingness to go the extra mile, to control what he can, to be the very best. He cares so much for this team and this organization and helping us win. That being said, I have to believe that it would be hard not to have him in that conversation of the all-time greats.”
Throughout the years, Crosby has reinvented himself. He can light up the scoreboard as 44 goal-scorer like he did this regular season or turn himself into the ultimate set-up man as he did early his career and during the 2017 playoffs. He’s battled through numerous concussions, including two this season, that have cost him almost two seasons worth of hockey. But Crosby never stops working on his game, even using the ads on the ice during pregame warmups to hone his stick work.
“A lot of that goes unnoticed,” said Pittsburgh forward Conor Sheary, who has played on a line with Crosby during the past two seasons. “Behind the scenes, he’s working so hard. He doesn’t have to say much but he leads by example. Driven is a great word to describe him. He’s probably not satisfied with this one. He’s gonna want another one. That’s just the player and guy he is.”
When asked if he had ever come across a person as competitive as Crosby, Sheary had a simple answer: no. Crosby does not even let up when the team plays their pregame soccer match.
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