Alexa

Crosby has become a hot asset

Crosby has become a hot asset

When Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby enters a room or steps onto the ice, a hush envelops him.
Grown men stare in awe and wonder how a 19-year-old can lead the National Hockey League in scoring.
Young girls swoon at his wavy black hair, boyish smile, impeccable dress and polite manners. They wonder about his availability.
Coaches and fellow players marvel at his ability to skate fast, shoot accurately, pass precisely and anticipate opportunities before anyone else on the ice sees them.
Corporations line up to sign him to six-figure deals for endorsing their shoes, soft drinks and video games.
And cities such as Kansas City that are courting the Penguins would love to see him in a home uniform.
Sid the Kid, in just his second season, has given the NHL its most visible player since Wayne Gretzky at a time when the league needs a superstar to lift it from the depths of an obscure cable television package and lack of high-profile performers.
And Crosby, the NHL's most popular player as evidenced by his league-leading 825,783 All-Star votes - the second most for one player since fan balloting began in 1986 - could be in a Kansas City uniform next fall.
"I don't know a whole lot about it," Crosby said of the tug of war between Pittsburgh, where the Penguins' lease at 45-year-old Mellon Arena expires in June, and Kansas City, which has offered a sweetheart deal at the new Sprint Center if the Penguins cannot secure a new building in Pittsburgh.
"The players on our team are pretty content with being in Pittsburgh. We really enjoy it there. We get great support. But it's out of our hands. We have heard the rumor it's a possibility to go (to Kansas City)."
Crosby occupies a guest room in the Pittsburgh mansion of Penguins owner and icon Mario Lemieux but says they don't talk about the business side of the franchise.
"He has so much on his mind," Crosby said.
48 assists in 43 games
But as Lemieux negotiates for a new arena in Pittsburgh or plots his move to Kansas City, his biggest chip at the table is Crosby, who begins the second half of the NHL season with 72 points - six more than his closest pursuer - on 24 goals and a league-leading 48 assists in 43 games.
Crosby, who wears No. 87 in honor of his birthday - 8-7-87 - is the second teenager in the modern era to lead the league in points. Only Gretzky in 1979-80 and 1980-81 managed to do so. And Crosby, a compactly built 5-foot-11, 193 pounds, last April became the youngest player in NHL history to score 100 points in a season. He finished his rookie year with 102 points on 39 goals and 63 assists.
Either the new Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City or whatever arena Pittsburgh can come up with in the next few weeks, will be known as The House that Sid Built. He recognizes that he's one of the marquee faces of the new NHL and that the league is counting on his appeal to men and women the way the Indy Racing League markets Danica Patrick.
"There's a lot of attention, for sure," Crosby said, "but I think we have a strong group of players. I don't think it's up to one or two guys. We take it upon our responsibility to be good role models and bring interest to the game. It's going to be our on-ice performance that does that."
On the ice, the comparisons to the great Gretzky are inevitable.
"He was compared to Gretzky coming up as a kid - fair or unfair, I don't know," said Ken Morrow, the New York Islanders' director of scouting. "He's the new-wave player. He's got great speed, skill ... he's got the whole package. Whether he becomes a special player like Gretzky remains to be seen, but when a kid is leading the league in scoring at 19, that says a lot."
Lemieux, a fellow Hall of Famer and contemporary to Gretzky, the game's all-time leading scorer, said Crosby is "a much better player" than either Gretzky or himself at this stage of his career.
"He's a lot stronger, a great skater, sees the ice well and one-on-one, he's probably one of the best," Lemieux said of Crosby, the first overall pick of the 2005 draft. "It's amazing how mature he is for his age. And he's only going to get better from now on. It's pretty scary for the league."


Updated : 2021-04-12 13:52 GMT+08:00