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MVP puts Sidney Crosby in rare company

World Cup honor equals Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

TORONTO -- Bobby Orr was the first to complete the trifecta in 1976. Wayne Gretzky matched him 11 years later. Sidney Crosby joined their exclusive club Thursday.

Crosby equaled the Hall of Famers who preceded him, arguably the two best to ever play the game, by being named most valuable player of the World Cup of Hockey 2016 following Team Canada's 2-1 come-from-behind win against Team Europe at Air Canada Centre.

Orr, Gretzky and Crosby are the three players in history to win the Hart Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy, and MVP at the Canada Cup or World Cup of Hockey.

The Canada Cup was held five times from 1976-91 before it became the World Cup of Hockey in 1996. It has been held three times since.

"I don't think much about that company, I just think about serial winners, and that's what he is, he just wins," Team Canada coach Mike Babcock said of Crosby. "Sid's unbelievable. He's great to be around. I've been real lucky, I've been around him now three times and we win every time."

Crosby, who won gold with Babcock at the past two Olympics, has never been better in a best-on-best international tournament than he was in the World Cup.

He finished with a tournament-best 10 points on three goals and seven assists. Team Canada scored 24 goals, which means Crosby was involved in 41.7 percent of its scoring.

Crosby had three assists in the two-game final against Team Europe. He had two in a 3-1 win in the Game 1 and one on Patrice Bergeron's game-tying goal with 2:53 left Thursday.

Brad Marchand and Bergeron, Crosby's linemates, finished second and third in scoring. Marchand had eight points, including a tournament-best five goals, capped by his shorthanded winner with 43.1 seconds left Thursday. Bergeron had seven points, including four goals.

"[Crosby] does it right," Babcock said. "He works hard. He doesn't complain. If he gets 15 minutes (of ice time), he doesn't say a word. If he gets 20 minutes, he doesn't say a word. If he misses three shifts in a row, he doesn't say a word. If the penalty kill is out there and he's not playing -- whatever he's gotta do -- and then in the biggest moments he turns it up.

"When you look at guys like him and [Bergeron] and obviously [Jonathan Toews], in the biggest moments, they're better. They can't help themselves. They're addicted to winning and they just make it happen."

Crosby made it happen in a big way Thursday. He turned it up.

Team Canada was pressing for the tying goal, but room was sparse and Team Europe wasn't sitting back. Crosby appeared to elevate his game early in the third period, and Marchand and Bergeron followed. Eventually, the rest of Team Canada caught on.

It outshot Team Europe 13-6 in the third period after getting outshot 27-21 through two periods.

"They took over in the third," Babcock said of Crosby's line. "[They] absolutely dominated the third, of course, and got the rink tilted a little bit so we were able to come back and get a win."

Crosby has made it happen as captain on three occasions since 2014.

Canada went 6-0 winning gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where Crosby was its captain for the first time. It went 10-0 and won gold with Crosby as captain at the 2015 IIHF World Championship. Team Canada was 6-0 at the World Cup.

Crosby helped those teams by producing 24 points on eight goals and 16 assists in 21 games.

"It's pretty special. It's not easy to do," he said. "A lot of us were together there in Russia, and the guys who weren't, everyone just kind of jelled right away. I think everyone understands playing for Team Canada, people will do whatever it takes to win. To see the different challenges you have to overcome to win, the big ice in Russia was the big challenge; here we were facing different challenges, playing a really stingy defensive team that seemed to capitalize on every mistake. They were tough to play against and they tested us big time."

Team Canada passed. Crosby helped will it and skill it there, giving more credence to what he's done lately and how that will go a long way toward defining who he is as a player and why he has likely cemented his eventual place in the Hockey Hall of Fame at 29 years old.

In the past 17 months, he has won the World Championship, the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy, and the World Cup and World Cup MVP to join Orr and Gretzky in their exclusive club.

Take it back to 31 months ago and you can add Crosby's second Olympic gold medal. Think about that and it makes it easy to forget the two-month blip he had at the start of last NHL season, when he was struggling to score and the Pittsburgh Penguins were struggling to win.

Crosby hasn't forgotten, though. The adversity makes the championships and MVP awards even sweeter.

"I don't have to look too far to think about how tough it was a year ago starting off the season, so I think I appreciate this a lot," Crosby said. "It's not easy. Everyone wants to be playing for Team Canada. There's a lot of expectations. We play here. We understand that. But it's an unbelievable atmosphere to play here at home. To be a hockey player playing with Team Canada, to be with this group of guys, it's been a lot of fun. So, to be able to win it is special for a lot of reasons. It's been a great month."

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