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Crosby among small group of greatest in NHL history, Orr says: report

Penguins center in same class as Bruins legend, Gretzky, Lemieux, Howe @NHLdotcom

Sidney Crosby is one of the top five players in NHL history, according to Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Bobby Orr.

Orr told The Athletic in comments published Tuesday that the Pittsburgh Penguins center belongs in the discussion of who is the greatest ever NHL player, along with himself, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Gordie Howe.

"I want you to be very comfortable putting Sidney Crosby's name with the rest of us," said Orr, an eight-time winner of the Norris Trophy voted as the NHL's best defenseman. "Just trust me on that one. He's so, so special. If you ask those other guys on the list, I know that they'll tell you the same thing I'm about to tell you: Sid belongs on that list.

"Sure, there's the talent that he has and the drive. But look at what he's been through. That tells me something. Look at the injuries he's dealt with, especially earlier in his career. He's been beat up, hurt, been through so, so much. And through it all, look at what he's accomplished. He's won all of those Cups. He's won the Olympics; scored the goal to win it, in fact. The World Cups he's won. The numbers he's put up. Everything he's done. He's one of the greatest hockey players of all time."

Orr was referring to Crosby's issues with an ankle sprain in 2008, concussions in 2011 and 2012, and the core-muscle surgery that caused him to miss 28 games this season.

Selected No. 1 by the Penguins in the 2005 NHL Draft, Crosby has scored 1,263 points (462 goals, 801 assists) in 984 regular-season games, and 186 points (66 goals, 120 assists) in 164 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He helped the Penguins win the Cup three times (2009, 2016, 2017).

He won the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring champion twice (2006-07, 2013-14), the Maurice Richard Trophy as the top goal-scorer twice (2009-10, 2016-17), the Hart Trophy voted as NHL MVP twice (2006-07, 2013-14), and the Conn Smythe Trophy voted as playoff MVP twice (2016, 2017).

He also helped Canada win the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, when he scored in overtime to win the championship game, and at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Crosby became a member of the Triple Gold Club when he helped Canada win the 2015 IIHF World Championship. He also won the World Cup of Hockey 2016 with Canada.

Orr is a two-time Stanley Cup champion and a three-time Hart Trophy winner.

Crosby, who along with Orr, Gretzky, Lemieux and Howe was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players during the NHL centennial celebration in 2017, is in his 15th NHL season with Pittsburgh. The center was third on the Penguins with 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 41 games when this season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

The Penguins were 40-23-6 (.623 points percentage) and are the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. They will play the Montreal Canadiens, the No. 12 seed (31-31-9), in a best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifier series when Phase 4 of the NHL Return to Play Plan begins at a date and hub city to be determined.

"There are a lot of great players in the League right now, and there have been a lot of all-time greats," Orr said. "I think (Edmonton Oilers center) Connor McDavid can be up there with them someday. But Sid is there. This is an incredible person and an incredible hockey player. I have so, so much respect for him. I really love Sid."

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