Sid the Kid turns 30 today.
Considered the greatest player of his era, Sidney Crosby entered the National Hockey League as the most hyped player since Mario Lemieux. Dubbed the Next One, Crosby was expected to become a generational talent not seen since the Great One, Wayne Gretzky. Coming off his third Stanley Cup title in 12 NHL seasons, Sid the Kid has lived up to the hype.
Crosby has had a storybook international career. Representing Team Canada, he won gold at the 2005 World Junior Championships and has twice led Canada to Olympic gold. At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Sid the Kid scored the game-winning goal in overtime – the “Golden Goal” – to beat the U.S. for the gold medal. The Golden Goal ended the most-watched televised event in Canadian history and rivals Paul Henderson’s miraculous Summit Series winner four decades earlier as Canada’s greatest sporting moment. Crosby led Canada to the 2015 World Championship and 2016 World Cup of Hockey. He is one of 27 members in the Triple Gold Club, players who have won an Olympic gold medal, World Championship gold medal and the Stanley Cup. Crosby is the only player in history to have captained all three.
Seventy percent of the players in the National Hockey League do not amass 100 points in their careers. Sidney Crosby scored 102 as a rookie. In his second season, he collected 130 points to become the only teenager to win a scoring title in any major North American sports league. Crosby has scored more than 100 points five times in a dozen seasons. He sees plays before they happen. Crosby passes the puck better than any player in hockey and, like Bobby Orr, Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, makes those around him better. His innate playmaking ability, coupled with surprising strength, make him the best player in the world. “He thinks the game faster than most people,” says Penguins teammate Chris Kunitz. An impressive skater with an unparalleled backhand, Crosby is fearless below the hash marks, where he dominates. At 5’11” and 200 pounds, Sid the Kid is not physically imposing, yet his outsized effort and a relentless, uncompromising drive to improve make him unstoppable. The left-handed shooting centerman is a face-off master and his attention to detail makes him the ideal leader.
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia – the capital city of Canada’s eastern-most province – on this date in 1987, Sidney Patrick Crosby is the elder of Troy and Trina’s two children. He grew up in nearby Cole Harbour, where he started skating before he turned three. By five, he was playing organized hockey. “He was always more advanced than the other kids,” said Troy Crosby, a 12th round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 1984 who never made it to the NHL. “Everyone else was skating on their ankles and he was skating and passing the puck.” At seven, Crosby was the best player in a Halifax hockey school for the top young talent in the Maritime provinces. He practiced relentlessly in the basement. Pucks that missed the net dented the family’s dryer, now a celebrated artifact in the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame.
Crosby has been a hockey icon since he was a toddler. A youth hockey phenom, he gave his first newspaper interview at seven. At 14, Crosby entered the minor midget league [designated for 15- to 17-year-olds], scoring 217 points and being named MVP of the league. Soon, Crosby was the target of opposing players, who intentionally tried to injure him, and other players’ parents, who verbally abused him on and off the ice. Crosby enrolled at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a boarding school in Minnesota known as the “Hogwarts of Hockey,” and led the Sabres to the 2003 AAA national championship.
The Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League selected Crosby with the first overall pick of the 2003 Midget Draft. In his first season, he led the QMJHL in scoring, was named Rookie-of-the-Year and earned league MVP honors, becoming the first QMJHL player to sweep all three awards. Sid the Kid dominated Juniors, scoring 303 points over two seasons. Having turned 18, he became eligible for the 2005 Draft Lottery – better known as the “Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins selected Crosby with the first overall pick of the 2005 Draft. He was the perfect player to rejuvenate a franchise coming out of bankruptcy. Lemieux, who had taken ownership of the Pens in 1999, became Sid’s mentor and landlord, as Crosby rented the hall-of-famer’s guest house. In his first season, he finished runner-up to Alex Ovechkin for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top rookie. In his second season, Crosby completed a rare hat-trick, winning the NHL scoring title [Art Ross Trophy], MVP [Hart Trophy] and most outstanding player [Lester B. Pearson Award]. Only 19, Crosby became the youngest player ever to be named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team.
In 2007, Crosby was named Penguin’s captain, making him the youngest player in league history to earn that distinction. Following his third season, he signed a five-year contract extension worth $ 8.7 million annually. It is a fitting figure, as Crosby – who was born 8/7/87 – wears number 87 on his sweater.
The Penguins had finished last in their division in the three seasons prior to Crosby’s arrival. In his third year in Pittsburgh – and first as captain – Crosby led the Pens to the Stanley Cup Finals, were they were eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings. In a rematch the following year, Crosby led the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history while also becoming, at 21, the youngest captain ever to capture the NHL’s biggest prize. Since 2007, Crosby has led Pittsburgh to the playoffs every year, and the Pens have hoisted the Stanley Cup three times, including back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017.
Less than two percent of NHL players reach the 1,000-point plateau in their careers. In 782 NHL games, Sidney Crosby has scored 382 goals, handed out 645 assists, collecting 1,027 points. He has earned virtually every award in hockey. A six-time All-Star, Crosby has won two scoring titles, three most outstanding player awards, and two Mark Messier NHL Leadership Awards. Sid the Kid has twice been named Canadian athlete of the year, is a two-time recipient of the Conn Smyth Trophy as NHL playoff MVP and owns eight NHL “youngest player” records.
In 2003, Wayne Gretzky was asked if a player might one day break some of his NHL scoring records. “Yes,” said the Great One, “Sidney Crosby. He’s the best player I’ve seen since Mario [Lemieux].”