Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby parades through the streets of Halifax with the Stanley Cup on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. Crosby, the parade grand marshal, is a three-time Stanley Cup champion and was celebrating his 30th birthday. (The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan)
Sid isn’t a kid anymore.
In fact, Sidney Crosby turned 30 Monday.
The Penguins captain has compiled quite a highlight reel during his 12 NHL seasons. The obvious big moments are often discussed.
I prefer to reminisce about the times he tortured the Philadelphia Flyers.
*On Nov. 16, 2005 at Philadelphia, the Flyers’ Derian Hatcher made Crosby, then a rookie, pay the deductible on his dental plan via whacking Crosby in the mouth. Later that game, Crosby retaliated the best way he knows: Netting a breakaway in overtime. Mean face to celebrate.
*In 2006-07, the Penguins went 8-0 against the Flyers. Crosby had seven goals and nine assists in those eight games.
*In 59 career regular-season games against the Flyers, Crosby has 36 goals and 48 assists. In 17 playoff contests against the hated enemy, Crosby has nine goals and 14 helpers.
Crosby was born in 1987. He’s never seen the Flyers win the Cup. If Crosby has his way, he never will.
Crosby hates the Flyers. He is one of us, especially in that regard.
There’s obviously a bigger picture than Crosby’s abuse of the Flyers. There isn’t much to criticize about Crosby, not on or off the ice.
Crosby has never embarrassed himself, his team, his league or his sport. Never mind foul deeds, there aren’t even any scurrilous rumors about Crosby.
Crosby entered the NHL as a prodigy in 2005, a perceived successor to Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, etc.
Crosby turned out to be as advertised: Championships, stats, individual awards, all of it.
It’s quite a blend: Three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, one World Cup of Hockey, two NHL MVPs, two NHL playoff MVPs, two NHL scoring titles, two NHL goal-scoring crowns, five-time First-Team NHL All-Star, World Cup of Hockey MVP. All before turning 30.
What Crosby has accomplished is very tangible. You can touch it. We all saw it. No need to invent anything.
The truly great offer something unique: Wayne Gretzky had unparalleled vision. Lemieux had size, reach and elegance. Bobby Orr changed the game.
Crosby is the best grinder ever.
It’s not a description he likes. But it’s a compliment, and that’s what Crosby is. No one is better at winning and possessing the puck in traffic. Then, when Crosby bursts into space with the disc, he uses a whole different skill set.
It’s what makes Crosby one of hockey’s best five players ever. That’s a description he can probably live with.
The best isn’t yet to come. Rarely do hockey players maintain the same level of performance and production into their thirties.
But Crosby isn’t done.
Edmonton’s Connor McDavid is supposed to be Crosby’s successor. He was scoring champ and MVP this past season. But Crosby got the Stanley Cup, his preferred measure of greatness. No one talked about McDavid in June.
By all accounts, Crosby likes McDavid. But that won’t cajole Crosby into abdicating his throne.
There’s too much Crosby loves about being hockey’s best player.
The best way to deal with Crosby is silence. It gives you a fractional chance. A better chance than Nashville’s P.K. Subban had after trying to clown Crosby with his “bad breath” comment and big bag of mouthwash.
Crosby responded by repeatedly bouncing Subban’s head off the ice like a basketball and taking over the Stanley Cup Final.
Don’t poke the bear. Crosby always feels he has something to prove. Don’t provide more ammunition.
Crosby had a great birthday cake: A replica of the basement dryer Crosby used to shoot pucks into as a kid, topped by three miniature Stanley Cups.
Crosby probably didn’t indulge much. Training camp isn’t too far off.
That’s doubtless what Crosby thought about on the day he turned 30. Not what he had done. But what he still wants to do.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays at WXDX.com (105.9)