For this blog entry I chose one of my personal favorite people in the sports world Sidney Crosby. Seeing as today is his birthday(he was born 8/7/1987, I’d wear #87 if I was him to) I figured I would give him some praise, because he certainly deserves it.
As a leader in a game such as hockey I think it’s as important if not more important than any other sports. It’s very interesting to me that there are so many players in the NHL and although just over half of them are Canadian citizens it seems rare to see a team who has a captain who isn’t Canadian. Some of the greatest captains of recent history come to mind to me and they are Jonathon Toews, Sidney Crosby, Steve Yzerman, Vincent Lecavlier, Eric Staal, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Scott Niedermayer and the list goes on. All great captains, all Canadians. Sidney Crosby is one of the youngest of the group and his legazy is yet to be fully established, although he is well on his way.
I believe if Sidney Crosby was to hang up his skates today, on his 23rd birthday he would be elected into the NHL hall of fame. That is very high praise for a 23 year old, but let’s take a look at all the things he has done.
Sidney was the first overall pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the draft lottery was actually known as the “Sidney Sweepstakes.” At the time the Pittsburgh Penguins had filed for bankruptcy and their part owner Mario Lemieux had actually came out of retirement a few years earlier to attempt to reignite the city of Pittsburgh’s love for hockey. When the team was for sale, they were looking at it being relocated to several destinations. Once Sidney Crosby showed up, all talks of relocation came to a halt. He put a franchise on his back and grew it from a bankrupt laughing stock of the NHL, to the perennial Stanley cup contender that they are today. Oh yeah, that was 2005, it’s 2010. He turned it around pretty quick..
How did Sidney do all this? Let me give you a quick rundown of events
In his first full season, he finished 6th in the scoring race, not a bad year. The next year, he finished with the most points in the NHL and won the Hart Memorial trophy as the NHL MVP. Yeah, he was 19 years old and already had a MVP trophy on his mantle at home. Or should I say Mario’s home, Mario Lemieux took Sidney in to his home to live with his family to make sure that Sidney had the right guidance during this very important part of his life.
The very next season Sidney took him and the rest of his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates to the Stanley Cup finals, where they eventually lost to the Detroit Red Wings. The very next year both teams returned to the Stanley Cup finals, Sidney Crosby had grown to become the Captain of the Penguins and he donned the “C” on his jersey. He was the Pittsburgh Penguins unequivocal leader, they don’t just hand out those “C’s” they’re earned!
Therefore when the Penguins were awarded the Stanley Cup, it was awarded directly to Sidney Crosby. He became the youngest captain in NHL history when he hoisted that trophy above his head. At the age of 21, he had accomplished practically every red blooded canadian boys dreams. He had a MVP trophy, and his name would forever be engraved on the Stanley Cup, what more could he ask for?
It turns out he wasn’t complacent. He came back this season and won another award, the Rocket Richard Trophy for having the most goals in the NHL with 51, notice a trend here? He’s collecting a lot of hardware.
Also in the middle of this last season Sidney Crosby was invited to represent Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. The chance to win a gold medal on his home soil was obviously something him and the rest of the NHL players from Canada couldn’t pass up. Eventually Canada would win the gold medal game in great fashion, one of their leaders was able to step up in overtime and get the game winning goal for the team, and ignite pride throughout a nation. That man was Sidney Crosby.
All the while Sidney Crosby has kept a good head on his shoulders. He has stayed with the Pittsburgh Penguins his whole career, showed loyalty to them since they’ve showed loyalty to him. He wanted to win championships in Pittsburgh, he didn’t bolt at free agency to join some other superstars somewhere( LEBRON!). He believed in the organization that they would build around him, and he and the rest of his teammates would be able to be competitive each and every year. It makes it that much more important to him and his teammates when they grew together as a team, and were led by Sidney himself to the Stanley Cup. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the same if he was to win anywhere else.
Sidney’s leadership capabilities are impressive. He managed to turn around a whole organization, practically on his own. There are some other pieces to the puzzle obviously, but there’s a reason Sidney is the captain. He’s the go-to guy when it’s crunch time. He’s the one people expect to step up when they need him to. He is the face of the NHL and the face of the Pittsburgh Penguins. What’s most impressive to me about him is that he maintains a good reputation and doesn’t ever seem to get into trouble.
For being such a young man with such a large sum of money available to him (#87 makes $8.7 million/season…naturally). He one of the big spokesmen for Timbits hockey program in Canada which makes sure that all little kids are able to play hockey if they would like to. He has also been known to donate to several charities and has his summer home in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia the exact place where he grew up.
I understand that hockey isn’t really mainstream in America, but in a time like today where it seems a lot of professional athletes have questionable character (which generally also associates them with having trouble winning championships) it’s good to see a guy like Sidney Crosby. He’s accomplished so much at such a young age, is still hungry, and wants to accomplish more. He’s kept his head throughout this whole process has kept his image clean and has cashed in with endorsements because of it.
Here is someone that I look up to, which seems very weird to me because well he is a few months younger than I am. But he has accomplished everything he set out to accomplish and is still hungry to accomplish more. He brings his teammates along with him and gets them ready for the next game, for the next season, and never lets the people he plays with get complacent, because he never gets complacent.
Sidney Crosby is a leader that everyone should look up to, he has a full trophy mantle, a stanley cup ring, an olympic gold medal and a fire that burns inside him to accomplish more!