It’s hard to argue Wayne Gretzky isn’t the best player to ever lace up the skates in the NHL. However, if Wayne’s not your guy, then you probably lean toward the game’s most naturally skilled legend, Mario Lemieux. And, there are those who will argue all night that Bobby Orr is the most complete, dominant, revolutionary hockey player of all time. There is no denying the greatness of Wayne, Mario and Bobby. However, there is a whole generation and group of new thinkers who will tell you, Sidney Crosby is the best hockey player in NHL history.
Sidney Crosby’s Long List Of Accomplishments
Let’s start off before Sidney Crosby was drafted to the NHL. He had 2 appearances at the World Junior Championships where he helped Team Canada win a Silver medal and then a Gold medal the following year. In those years he also earned back-to-back CHL (Canadian Hockey League) Player of the Year awards and in the 2004-05 season, playing for Rimouski Oceanic of the CHL, he led the team to the Memorial Cup Final.
His career in the NHL started in the 2005-06 season when he was just 18 years old after being drafted 1st overall in the 2005 entry draft. The draft lottery that year was nicknamed the “Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes”. In his first season, he was the youngest player in NHL history to score 100 points. He was also runner up for the Memorial Calder Cup trophy which was won by Alexander Ovechkin that year. In Crosby’s second season he led the league with 120 points (36 goals & 84 assists), earning him the Art Ross Trophy as the youngest player to win a scoring title in not just the NHL but in all major North American sports leagues. Impressed yet? This is just the tip of the iceberg. That same year, he was also awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy for most valuable player and the Lester B. Pearson Award for most outstanding player. He is 1 of 7 players in NHL history to earn all three awards in the same year. And that’s still not it for 2007, Sid was also the youngest player to be voted onto the All-star team, the youngest team captain ever, he was awarded the Lou Marsh Award for Canada’s outstanding Athlete, as well as, the Mark Messier Leadership Award. An incredible year any 19 year old would dream of having in the NHL.
As team captain during the 2007-08 NHL season Crosby led the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup finals where they were defeated by the Detroit Red Wings in six games. In 2008-09 Sid The Kid once again led his team to the Stanley Cup finals against the Wings. This time the Pens were successful, beating out Detroit in seven games to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup since 1992. This made Sid the youngest player in NHL history to captain his team to a championship.
Crosby’s performance throughout his 4th year in the NHL earned him a 2nd Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s top athlete, becoming only the 8th Canadian to win the prestigious award more than once.
2009-10 was another amazing year for Crosby. He scored a career high 51 goals and 58 assists to total 109 points which landed him second overall in the NHL. The 51 goals earned him the Rocket Richard Trophy which he shared with Steven Stamkos who also scored 51 that year. He also represented Team Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics hosted by Vancouver. During the Olympics he played 7 games, got 7 points and scored, arguable the best goal of his career, in overtime of the Gold medal game to win it for Team Canada. Crosby also earned the Mark Messier Leadership award during the off-season in 2010. After sustaining a concussion in January 2010 at the Winter Classic game, Crosby was forced out of action for nearly 11 months, not returning until the 2011-12 season. Crosby’s symptoms came back in December 2011, sidelining him for 4 months. He returned in mid-March 2012.
There’s no question that Crosby is still holding up to his nickname “The Next One”. If he continues the trend of the way he has played in the first 5 years of his career, he will have amassed 73 goals more, 1,092 assists less and 1,019 points less than “The Great One”. The 967 goals would rank him 1 and the 1,838 points would rank him 4th overall above Gretzky’s 894 goals, the 871 assists would rank him 23rd overall in NHL history.
It has been over a year since Crosby experienced any publicized concussion problems. Over the next few seasons, a healthy Sid can continue to score at a rapid clip and challenge for a spot as the best hockey player in history.
Written by Chris Skeates. Edited by S. J. Ientile