I figured I’d take out an introduction paragraph here to talk about what I am going to write about in this series. I plan on doing one of these every week until I finally get through the entire Penguins roster, Barring any changes. (Shoutout to Jim Rutherford, make some moves buddy). I plan on covering the significant details of each players careers, from the day they were born until the date their piece was written. I hope to give everyone a little insight into each player’s stories and better inform everyone on the players we hold so near and dear to our hearts. This will likely be a one-time introduction, just for this piece. This will also be the only time I talk in the first person throughout the series. That is it for my little preamble, now stay tuned for the rest of the timelines to come out. Now, without further adieu, a timeline of Sidney Crosby’s career.
Sidney Crosby was born a winner. Born on the seventh of August in the year 1987. Yes, that is eight, seven, 87. That is his jersey number we all know. It is the most recognizable number in hockey, (currently, that is, everyone knows number 99). He was born to Troy and Tina Crosby and grew up in the town Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia where he is revered. The welcome sign to the town even mentions his name. This is where his infamous basement of his childhood home can be found, where he would stay in the basement all day shooting pucks into his mother’s clothes dryer. At the young age of three years old, he learned to skate. Then, it began.
In his early years of his hockey career he dominated. Crosby was so dominant that he was allowed to play up in the leagues for older children, and even there he ruled the ice. He would go on to play for Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). It wouldn’t take him long to make a name for himself there. In his CHL debut, he scored eight points in an exhibition game. In his first regular season game, he scored a goal and added two assists. His time in Rimouski would launch him into hockey superstardom. He would be touted as the next Wayne Gretzky, who is to this day widely regarded as the greatest hockey player to ever live. He was so dominant in fact that he was instantly locked to be the first overall pick. Crosby would, in fact, be the first overall pick in his draft, and will change the course of that team’s history.
The NHL season prior to Crosby’s draft year had been canceled after the lockout had gone on too long. The Pittsburgh Penguins were in shambles. Mario Lemieux had been retired, and a few years prior they had traded away Jaromir Jagr. The Penguins had been launched into mediocrity and the franchise would suffer for it. Every year they had been threatened to move to a wide variety of different cities. Lots of cities wanted to make a name for themselves in the hockey world and targeted bringing the Penguins to their city. The Penguins needed something that would bring them out of their hole. Then Lemieux came again to save the day, but this time not on the ice. He would purchase partial ownership of the Pittsburgh Penguins and promised to keep the team in the city that it calls home.
The 2005 NHL Draft lottery leading up to the actual NHL Draft was known as the ‘Sidney Crosby sweepstakes’. The team that would get the envelope containing the first overall pick would surely take Sidney Crosby and their team would be changed forever. Everyone knew he was going to be great and there was no evidence to say otherwise. As we all know now, Sidney Crosby would be drafted first overall by the Penguins.
Crosby had to share his rookie year with the first overall pick of the previous draft and another generational talent in Russian Alex Ovechkin, who had been drafted by the Washington Capitals, another team in shambles looking to reassert themselves in the hockey world. Unfortunately, Ovechkin stole the rookie of the year title, scoring four more points than Crosby did. Crosby broke the one hundred point barrier in his first season in the NHL and nearly had himself a forty goal season, falling one goal shy of that mark. Crosby would be selected to the all-rookie team.
Flash forward to next season and Crosby’s launch into superstardom would be complete. In just his second year in the league, he would score a total of 120 points in 79 games. That total put him at the top of the league, securing an Art Ross trophy, the first of his career. His performance would also earn him his first Hart Trophy for the league’s MVP. He led the Penguins to their first playoff appearance since 2001.
One year later the Penguins, led by Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and a great supporting cast, found themselves in the Stanley Cup Final in a showdown against a veteran-filled roster of the Detroit Red Wings. The series would prove to be exciting, but disappointing for Crosby and the Penguins who would be ousted by the Red Wings in six games.
That Cup Final would prove so exciting, they wanted to do it again. Following the almost completely successful year, the Penguins fought tooth and nail to get a second shot against the Red Wings. The two teams met yet again in the Stanley Cup Final, and Penguins would get the better of the veteran Red Wings this time. The Red Wings fell in a full, action-packed seven-game series, which saw Evgeni Malkin take home the Conn-Smythe trophy for Final MVP.
The next seven years of Crosby’s career were filled with injuries and playoff disappointment. Crosby was sidelined with two concussions that basically knocked two years out of his career. He missed significant time for many years and the Penguins struggled because of it. It was disappointing. People began to question Crosby’s legacy and whether or not he could ever be the greatest player in the league again. He was labeled a coach-killer, which didn’t make much sense as he’s only had four coaches since 2006. Then, significant moves by the new general manager would change the course of Crosby’s career.
On December 16, 2016, Mike Sullivan was hired as the new Penguins head coach. The players quickly responded after a disappointing start to the 2015-16 season which saw them sitting outside looking in on the playoff race. It was a shocking turnaround and the Penguins exploded and finished second in the Metropolitan Division. There were many other moves besides the coach, but it is widely regarded as the largest of the moves.
In June of 2016, Crosby and the Penguins found themselves to be yet again in the Stanley Cup Final. This time against a hungry San Jose Sharks, who were looking for their first Stanley Cup victory in their franchise’s history. The Penguins continued the dominance they showed in the second half of the regular season and entire playoffs and rolled over the Sharks in six games. Crosby finally got his second ring and took home his first Conn-Smythe trophy.
Flash forward a year. Crosby is fresh off a Stanley Cup win and a World Cup of Hockey Championship with Canada, which he also earned MVP of that tournament. The Penguins demolished their competition all the way up to the Stanley Cup Final again, this time against another team searching for their first championship, the Nashville Predators. The Predators gave the Penguins their all, but it takes a lot to stack up against the sheer raw talent all throughout the Penguins roster. The Penguins dropped the Predators in six games, and Crosby took home another Conn-Smythe trophy for his ever-growing hardware collection.
Let us not forget Crosby’s two iconic gold medal victories with team Canada in the Olympics in Vancouver, 2010 and Sochi, 2014. He scored what is referred to as the “golden goal”. Which is the name used for the goal he scored in overtime against the United States in 2010 to secure a gold medal for Team Canada. Without a doubt, if there was an MVP trophy for the Olympics, Crosby would have received it certainly.
It is now time to look ahead for Sidney Crosby. He is only 30 years old and has plenty of years ahead of him, and so do the rest of his teammates who share the same passion and drive as Crosby. It is entirely possible that he will add more hardware to his collection. All Penguins fan hope that his success will continue for many years to come and that Crosby’s young, but storied career will continue to grow in prominence.