Born in 1987, Sidney Crosby, captain of Canadian professional ice hockey team the Pittsburgh Penguins, swiftly shot his way into the record books and reached icon status at a remarkably young age.
Crosby’s records and achievements far exceed his young age. Often nicknamed ‘The Next One’, following in the path of the great Mario Lemieux, Crosby became one of the most regarded draft picks in the history of the game. The 2005 Draft Lottery has even been nicknamed the ‘Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes’ in recognition of his impact.
Awards have always closely followed his outstanding play, among them the Art Ross Trophy in the 2006-7 NHL season, giving him the record of being the only teenager in the history of the North American sports league to win a scoring title. He also picked up the Hard Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award, the seventh player in NHL history to achieve the feat of all three in the same season.
Having proved his exceptional talent through consistently record breaking and award winning play, Crosby has also earnt his place as a young legend of the game.
With a seemingly innate interest in hockey, shooting at the drier in his basement with a stick from the age of two, Crosby was well on his way to future stardom having learnt to skate by the age of three. By the age of 14, Crosby’s talent was clearly emerging, playing at a standard matching those years ahead of him. The AAA Midget League in 2001-2 saw him score 44 goals in 31 games and he was quickly being recognised as one to watch, that season picking up both the MVP and Top Scorer awards.
The first of his many records followed in 2003 at the Ice Hockey World Junior Championships, being the fifth youngest player to represent Team Canada at just 16 years old, and the youngest to ever score a goal.
Crosby’s entrance to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) came shortly after, picked as number one draft choice by Rimouski Oceanic. Crosby immediately rose to meet expectations and, in his first game with the side, scored 8 points. Picking up player of the week six times in his first season, Crosby’s abilities and future star status were now being exhibited.
With time and experience, Crosby proved himself to be a talented and fearless forward, aggressive and dominant in the game. In the first year in the QMJHL he received six awards, including the honours of Player of the Year, Top Rookie and Top Scorer. Picking up all three of these at once marked him out as the first QMJHL player to do so, and comparisons to ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky began to circulate.
2005 saw Crosby’s selection as first overall in the NHL entry draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the side he would go on to captain. His first appearance as a professional came on the 5th October 2005 against the New Jersey Devils, notching up an assist on the team’s first goal of the season. His first goal for the side followed during his third game, scoring against Boston Bruins.
Crosby’s age has occasionally gone against him, with his reputation for complaints to NHL officials and clocking up the most penalty minutes of his team being attributed to his lack of maturity. However his outstanding play surpasses these criticisms and it’s been suggested this reputation will fade as he gets older.
In 2006 Crosby also made his mark internationally, being alternate captain for Team Canada in the World Championships. He was subsequently the youngest player to pick up a scoring title in a World Championship, named the tournaments top forward, and made it on to the competitions All Star team.
Back home, Crosby continued to build on his success in 2006, scoring his first hatrick in the NHL on the way to victory against the Philadelphia Flyers. Six weeks later the first six point game of his career followed and, for the rest of the season, he emulated the great Wayne Gretzky, being the first teenager since Gretzky in 1980 to lead in scoring. He also captured the record for assists in 2006, beating the target set by Lemieux. Overall, Crosby finished his first year as a professional with 63 assists and 102 points, the franchise record for a rookie. Scoring over 100 points claimed him another NHL record as the youngest player to exceed 100 points in a single season, cementing his place in the team and status in the hockey world. Despite this achievement, he lost out to Russian player Alexander Oveckin to win rookie of the year and the Calder Memorial Trophy.
In 2007 he became the youngest captain in NHL history, being named team captain for the Penguins at the age of 19. He was also the youngest player to be awarded the Art Ross Trophy. His fame transcended hockey, and he picked up the Lou Marsh Award for Canada’s top athlete, the first hockey player to receive the award since Lemieux in 1993.
Not surprisingly the Penguins were keen to keep Crosby on their side and his career with them has been extended, courtesy of a $43.5 million contract guaranteeing his position for another five years.
Endorsements and Jerseys
Crosby’s reputation has made him a key target for publicists, businesses and charity fundraisers. A biography entitled ‘Sidney Crosby: Taking the Game by Storm’ by Gare Joyce, was published before he’d even played his first season as a professional.
Crosby holds endorsement deals with Reebok, and previously Pepsi, Sher-Wood and Telus have been keen to snap him up.
Unsurprisingly, his fame has also seen his jerseys become key collectors items. A white jersey from his 2005 season sold for $21,100. Later, a jersey worn during his third NHL game made $21,000 for Hurricane Katrina but this was a low figure compared to the $47,520 fetched for a jersey from his appearance in the 2007 All Star Game.