It was an interesting year for Sidney Crosby
, to say the least.
The Penguins captain had never dealt with this much transition as far as the front office, coaching staff and player personnel goes throughout his 10-year career.
But while changes aren’t easy, they’re also expected as hockey at this level is a business. Crosby also had to deal with the unexpected when he was forced to miss a chunk of time back in December after being diagnosed with the mumps, a 1950s disease that re-emerged and spread through the NHL.
But despite all of that, Crosby persevered and grew into an even stronger leader and captain of his team.
Crosby, 27, has been widely considered the best player in the world ever since he came into the league 10 years ago. But that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to learn as he’s gotten older and trying to get better.
Crosby has a tireless work ethic and is known for constantly striving to improve certain areas of his game as his career has progressed. For example, after winning just 45.5 percent of his draws his rookie year, by his fifth and sixth seasons Crosby had elevated his success rate to over 55 percent.
He’s also been known to take a specific skill and work on it for an entire offseason, like the way he spent the summer of 2009 focusing on his shot and becoming more of a shooter. And as a result, that next season Crosby went on to win the Rocket Richard Trophy with 51 goals.
But at this point – entering the season with one Stanley Cup, two gold medals and nine individual NHL awards to his name – you think, what else is there? Well, that’s what makes Crosby who he is. He never stops looking for ways to adapt and develop, and that’s exactly what he did under a new coaching staff, with a lot of new teammates and a ton of injuries. Especially down the stretch and in the playoffs.
With the Penguins suffering a rash of injuries on the blue line and being forced to play with just five defensemen for a number of games, Crosby took it upon himself to do whatever he could to contribute to his team.
“I’m so proud of what he did in becoming that all-around player coming back in his own end deep and helping out and also getting his points,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “If he hadn’t had the mumps and gone through that three-week period he still would have won the scoring race and played an all-around game. And that’s the kind of game and the leadership you need to ultimately win championships. So that was a big step forward.”
THE NUMBERS: Crosby’s point totals weren’t as high as last year’s, when he won the league scoring title with 104 points (28G-56A) in 77 games. This year, he finished with 84 (28G-56A) in 77 games – placing third in the NHL scoring race. Crosby picked up his production when his team needed it most as they battled for a postseason berth. He finished with 26 points in his final 23 regular-season games to help the Penguins secure an eighth-consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Crosby may not have topped the 100-point mark like he did last year, but keep in mind he still finished third overall in the NHL – three behind first-place Jamie Benn and two behind second-place John Tavares. That just goes to show how consistently excellent Crosby has been throughout his career. A relative down year for Crosby production-wise is an incredible year for anybody else, and if he had been healthy the entire season, he probably would have won his second scoring championship in as many years.
LOOKING AHEAD: After the Penguins were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Crosby decided to join Team Canada at the World Championship and participate in the tournament for the first time since his rookie year because, as he put it, he was healthy and “just wanted to keep playing."
He was named captain of the squad and went on to lead his team to a gold medal, finishing with at least a point in all nine of his appearances – including a big goal and an assist in Canada’s 6-1 win over Russia in the championship game. Overall, Crosby finished with 11 points (4G-7A) as he became the 26th player to join the Triple Gold Club for players who have won the Stanley Cup and gold at the Olympics and Worlds.
While it’s not another Stanley Cup, a gold medal at the World Championship is still a big deal and hopefully, getting the chance to represent his country and accomplish what he did will give him a boost heading into this upcoming season.