LeBron James isn’t the only professional athlete trying to solidify his legacy this June. So was Sidney Crosby.
Well, if Crosby hadn’t already, he has now.
Crosby led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship and received the Conn Smythe Trophy despite not scoring a goal in the finals. That said, he had 19 points in the playoffs, including two assists in Pittsburgh’s series-clinching 3-1 Game 6 victory in San Jose on Sunday.
Pierre McGuire said the win was “gigantic” for Crosby.
“It cements his legacy,” the NHL on NBC analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Sidney’s never had that question (of whether he would be great). He was always considered The Next One. You had Gretzky, you had Lemieux, and then you had Crosby. He was going to be the cover boy for the league – and for good reason (and for a good portion of time), he was. Then, because of injury, he kind of lost his way and the team floundered and it didn’t work. But now he’s got two Cups, he’s got two Olympic gold medals, he’s got a world junior gold medal, a world championship gold medal, two Hart trophies, two Conn Smythes – he’s cemented his legacy as a great NHL-er and a guaranteed Hall of Famer.”
Crosby, still just 28, has no plans on slowing down anytime soon. Neither do the Penguins.
“The biggest question they’re going to have is dealing with the salary cap,” McGuire said. “They’ve got three players at the forward position that eat up almost $26 million of almost a $72 million cap. That’s pretty large for three players to eat up that much. It’s going to be really interesting to see how they manufacture and maneuver through it all.”
The Penguins also have to make an important choice to make in goal.
“Are they going to keep Marc-Andre Fluery or trade him?” McGuire asked. “He’s obviously a huge cap hit. What are they going to do with Evgeni Malkin? Are they going to keep him or move him? So those are two major questions. But I think going forward because of the growth of some of their young players – and they’ve got a tremendous young player coming up in Jake Guentzel; remember that name – they’re in a pretty good spot. Sidney told me the other night he’s never felt this good. He’s 100 percent. Their young players are starting to go. They got the best third line in hockey. They’re in a real good spot, so I think it’s very sustainable.”
San Jose, meanwhile, must wait at least another year for the first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. McGuire, however, said the fan base is extremely proud of what the team accomplished this season.
“I was so impressed with how they acted,” McGuire said of Sharks fans. “I was there to do their St. Louis series, some of it. I did their entire Stanley Cup Final. Those people are really impressed with what’s gone on with their team. I think they’re energized by the style of play, I think they’re energized by going to the Shark Tank and seeing what the in-game experience is all about, they have superstar players, they’ve got a bunch more coming – I think San Jose has done a great job with the group, and I think their future is extremely bright.”