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by Joe Sager / Pittsburgh Penguins
Being a team captain is a huge honor for any player.

Sidney and Troy Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
And, an even-bigger responsibility.

That’s why Sidney Crosby wanted to make sure the time was right to wear the C for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Now, that time is upon us.

Crosby was awarded the Penguins’ captaincy on Thursday at a press luncheon at Mellon Arena. However, that press conference could have happened as early as January.

“I met with Sidney at the All-Star Game in Dallas and really left it with him to think about and talk to his parents,” Penguins Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero said. “Part of what makes Sidney not your average 19-year-old kid is that he gave it some thought about it for two or three weeks and came back to us and said he didn’t feel the time was right. He didn’t really turn it down; he deferred it basically. That says a lot about his maturity and where he is at 19 years old. It was a team-first mentality, too.”

Although honored by the thought at the time, the 19-year-old Crosby just was not ready to take that step.

“I just thought it wasn’t right for me. As a team, we were playing great and you don’t want to disrupt things like that. And, I felt, individually, I was not ready to accept that responsibility quite yet,” he said. “Going through the playoffs and having that experience has probably given me more confidence, along with the situation. We have a mix of younger and older guys and I think it’s a perfect situation for me to feel comfortable and, at the same time, learn and grow as a player, too.”

Shero remains impressed with the young superstar and NHL scoring champ.

GM Ray Shero addresses the media.
“When I came here over a year ago, I had heard a lot about Sidney Crosby. What I have seen over the past year is a person and a player who is not only the best in the league at what he does, but he is also a player that exhibits the will to win, the passion for the game, the team-first mentality and a player that always strives to be the best,” he said. “At the end of the season when we met, we asked him the same question about the captaincy. Having gone through the second half of the season and having gone through the playoff experience, he feels he’s ready for the next step and so do we. It’s a perfect fit right now.

“To me, this is a well-earned honor for Sidney Crosby. And when I say ‘earned,’ I mean earned. It’s a privilege to announce that Sidney Crosby is the new captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins.”

Crosby, who served as an alternate captain last season and more than halfway through his rookie season, takes the new role very seriously.

“I try to lead by example. I don’t think I try to put it solely on my shoulders. As captain, you have to take responsibility, of course, but at the end of the day, it’s a team sport,” he said. “There are a lot of guys I can lean on for advice or help, in that area. It takes a team to win. It takes responsibility to be a captain and you’re looked upon to lead on and off the ice every day. That is something that I think I am ready to do.”

And, he will have the help of his teammates – younger and older – to lean on throughout the season like Sergei Gonchar. Two other veteran leaders from last season – Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts – are unrestricted free agents.

“I talked to Gonch and Rex and talked a little with Roberts. We don’t know what the situation is going to be, but I think for the veteran guys I know pretty well and really respect, they had some good feedback and really made me feel comfortable with the whole idea,” Crosby said. “I think that’s important; when you’re a captain, you need to have that respect by your peers. I think, as a team, we all respect each other and that’s very important.”

Shero knows the team is in good hands with No. 87.

“Sid is a leader by example. As he grows into this, he is going to be a guy who has that communication with the coaching staff and his teammates. He has the respect of the room,” he said. “Not much will change. As he grows into it, maybe a little bit, but immediately he is going to be the player he is and the person he is and that’s what made the choice to do this pretty easy for us.”
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