What the NHL’s young stars learned by watching Sid

Sidney Crosby’s older brother, Mark, was the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins for over a decade. He has played in 23 NHL seasons and won both an Olympic gold medal and Stanley Cup title with Sidney at his side throughout. What can young players learn from watching Sid?

“What the NHL’s young stars learned by watching Sid” is a blog post that describes what Sidney Crosby has taught many of the NHL’s younger players. The article includes quotes from Taylor Crosby, Brayden Point, and Connor McDavid.

What the NHL's young stars learned by watching Sid

During an NHL game, Sidney Crosby hears a lot of things on the ice. There were both cheers and jeers. Several goal horns disrupt the cacophony of trash talk. Crosby began to hear something else as the years passed: opponents openly admitting that they grew up with the Pittsburgh Penguins star hanging on their bedroom wall.

Cale Makar, a 23-year-old Colorado Avalanche defenceman, stated, “It was literally in our laundry room.” “It’s how we used to gauge our stature. We’d take a position next to it and draw lines on him.”

There have been 2,939 skaters who have played at least one NHL game since Crosby made his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 2005. Gradually, those athletes transitioned from being Crosby’s contemporaries to being recognized solely as their hockey archetype, the name on their most prized hockey cards, and the face on their walls.

“Almost everyone I knew had that huge life-size poster of him on their wall. He was the focus of attention for everyone “Dylan Cozens, a 20-year-old center for the Buffalo Sabres, agreed.

Cozens has been eye-level with Crosby in the faceoff circle, soaking in the bizarre sensation of fighting a hockey icon, rather than looking up to him. “We were competing in a game where we had to take faceoffs against each other. Every draw was something I wanted to win “he said

So, how did he do?

“He’s obviously been taking sketches for a long time. I managed to score a couple victories. However, he is the most experienced of the two.”

He has a lot of experience. He’s “Old Man Crosby” by hockey standards, despite his now-anachronistic “Sid the Kid” moniker: 34 years old, in his 17th season, with 1,052 regular-season games played and 174 more in the playoffs. In NHL history, the period between today and Crosby’s rookie season is about equal to the span between Mario Lemieux’s last Stanley Cup and Crosby’s first.

As a result, Crosby is often confronted by opponents who acknowledge to having grown up as fans.

“On the ice, men have said things like that. It made me feel rather ancient “Crosby laughed as he told ESPN. “However, I’m sure it’s intended as a complement.”

Generation Crosby is a group of players from all around the globe who have taken up a stick, laced up their skates, and stepped onto the ice for the first time, with the Pittsburgh Penguins captain serving as their Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, and Wayne Gretzky.

“Sid was a god,” claimed Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils, who is 20 years old. “When I was younger, I had a few encounters with him. Pat Brisson, [his agent], was a family friend, so I was lucky. I was always a nervous wreck. He is our generation’s top player. The person who was the greatest guy in all those years while I was growing up. It’s great to compete against him now that I’m playing against him. However, we had a slew of ’87 shirts in the home when I was a kid.”


Sidney Crosby and the Penguins face Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals in their first ESPN+ national contest (7 p.m. ET). On ESPN+, there will be a “Star Watch” auxiliary stream during the game, featuring isolated cameras and data on Crosby and Ovechkin. • A Guide for Viewers

How does it make Crosby feel when a guy like Hughes, who is part of the next generation of NHL talent, sees him as a hockey god?

“That’s extremely fantastic, in my opinion. It’s something I always enjoy “He indicated that this isn’t the first time he’s heard the comparison, and it’s unlikely to be the last.

“That, I believe, is what makes hockey so enjoyable. The guys have a great deal of admiration for one another. They understand the competition and are aware that it may be as tough as it is. At the same time, everyone’s game and contribution can be treated with unshakable respect and gratitude.”

At all levels and all throughout the globe, what Crosby brings to the rink has become a model for ambitious players and the coaches who train them.

Mike Sullivan, his Penguins coach, remarked, “I don’t believe there’s a more complete player than Sid.” “His awareness of how to win and desire to play on both sides of the puck is encouraging, [particularly] for a player of his generation.”

What did he instill in that generation?

On and off the ice, there’s plenty to do.

Crosby, the Teachable

Brian Keane, the founder and head coach of Prodigy Hockey, has taught Sidney Crosby as an English Lit professor teaches Shakespeare throughout the years.

The Penguins star’s body control is highlighted in his instructional “How to Protect the Puck in Hockey,” which includes a video of him hanging through NHL defenders dubbed “Sidney Crosby is possessed.” Crosby’s heel-to-heel skating is used by another as an exercise for expert skaters to improve their “two-and-10 glide” on the rink. It’s an attitude that’s been dubbed “The Mohawk” by some instructors, but “Sidney Crosby Edges” by others.

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“You may attempt to persuade a young athlete to take action. They will, however, gravitate toward the athletes they like watching and admiring. And I believe Sid has served as an inspiration to the players who are now in the league as well as those who are on the rise “Keane said. “I believe you’ll see a lot more players coming up that attempt to address game difficulties with those open hip motions, those heel-to-heel moves.”

When you ask Keane what he loves about Crosby as a teaching tool, he rattles off a long list.

“The way he utilizes his body and can sense his opponents and shift directions quickly, hitting seams when they’re open. One of the things I like showing players with him is where he looks and what he considers while making choices, whether on or off the ice “Keane said.

Crosby’s ability to protect the puck has always been lauded by Keane, who attributes it to his body type. “He moves in an unusual manner. “But it’s also his breadth and his rear,” Keane chuckled.”

Crosby’s lower physique earned him the moniker “Creature” from his teammates, as detailed in author and TSN anchor James Duthie’s book “The Day I (Almost) Killed Two Gretzkys.”

“It’s enormous. Gigantic. Hugantic. J-Lo would be envious of his caboose. His thighs are much larger than mine. All of his trousers must be created to order “Duthie wrote this.


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“With his work ethic and honors, he’s a role model for me,” Wright added. “It was just his style of play. He’s a really astute player. He improved the performance of his colleagues. He was also a fantastic leader, always showing up in the big moments, in the big games. I really enjoyed seeing him. I continue to like watching him.”

But if you ask Shane Wright who he models his game after, he’ll reply Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins. He, like Crosby, excels in both zones, wears the captain’s ‘C,’ and is a workhorse. Young players like Wright, unlike Crosby, regard “becoming the next Patrice Bergeron” as a possibility, but “becoming the next Sidney Crosby” as an impossibility.

“That’s an excellent way of putting it: Sid is a really exceptional player. His and Bergeron’s games are so similar, but Bergeron is the more accessible [talent] “Wright said. “That’s not to say [Bergeron] isn’t talented. Crosby, on the other hand, is a god-level performer, while Bergeron is a more approachable guy.”

This is an age-old legend. Brendan Shanahan, a Hockey Hall of Famer, grew up with Bobby Orr in the 1970s and was selected in the 1980s, when Wayne Gretzky was rewriting the NHL record books.

“Terry O’Reilly, a rugged man for the Boston Bruins, piqued my curiosity. It was impossible to follow Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux “With a chuckle, he remarked. “On that mountain, there are specific individuals. So you’re thinking, “Who else might I aspire to be like?””

Because playing at Crosby’s level wasn’t practical, Jack Hughes aspired to play like Chicago Blackhawks standout Patrick Kane as a kid.

“It’s like, ‘C’mon,’ you know, when somebody compare their game to a person like Sid.” Hughes remarked. “In our area, he’s the person who’s done it all at the greatest level. Cups have been won by him. He’s earned MVP awards in the past. It was terrible for us Americans when he scored the gold medal goal in the 2010 Olympics. But it was great because it was [Sidney Crosby].”

From watching Crosby play in the QMJHL to facing him in the NHL, Sean Couturier has come a long way. Getty Images/NHLI/Len Redkoles

Sean Couturier, a center for the Philadelphia Flyers, is nearly five years younger than Crosby, but he recalls the excitement when Sid’s Rimouski Oceanic came to Bathurst for a Quebec Major Junior game. “For us, it seemed like a performance was coming to town. He had a lot of skill.”

Because Crosby was on another level, Couturier looked up to Bergeron.

“I believe he is. You don’t see many men that score a point every game every season, especially in today’s game. In today’s game, that’s insane. Someone will be an amazing talent if he can accomplish it year after year. That’s something I believe we’ll see with Connor McDavid in the near future. You only see such skills once every 15 years or so “Couturier said.

Generation McDavid might emerge in the next two decades, as his 1.43 points-per-game average has surpassed Crosby’s (1.27). However, a generational talent isn’t often characterized just by their statistical accomplishments or the size of their trophy cabinet. It’s also about how they manage and make use of their generational standing.

Shane Wright believes he can still be like Sidney Crosby off the rink if he couldn’t be like Sid on the ice.

“[Crosby] wants to give back to the community that shaped him and helped him get to where he is today,” the 17-year-old center stated. “In every aspect, he is a role model. He looks after his colleagues. He looks after his neighborhood. On and off the ice, he’s someone you can look up to.”



Shane Wright, the top-rated 2022 NHL draft prospect, talks about being a member of the “Sidney Crosby Generation” with ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski.

Little Penguins of Sidney

Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux have a great friendship, and it’s not only because the Lemieuxs were Crosby’s de facto NHL billet family when he was a rookie.

Crosby took over from Lemieux as the franchise’s superstar. He was unable to equal or surpass Le Magnifique’s scoring records, therefore he was awarded one extra Stanley Cup ring. Its commitment to developing the game locally in Pittsburgh, though, has been probably their most striking resemblance.

“I believe there were six sheets of ice in the area when Mario arrived in town in 1984. There were 33 when he retired. So the foundation had been laid, but it had not been used “explained David Morehouse, the Penguins’ president since 2007. “We didn’t invest any funds in youth hockey. When you went to the rinks, there was no Penguins presence either.”

While this was going on, Crosby contacted Morehouse with the idea of starting a program that would allow local players who couldn’t afford to play hockey to do so. Crosby was with Reebok, the Penguins had Dick’s Sporting Goods as a team sponsor, and both the captain and his team were willing to put up their own money, so the two sat down for lunch at a Pittsburgh Marriott and plotted it out.

“Sidney Crosby’s Little Penguins” was born as a result.

“Sid was not born into a wealthy family. For him, it was critical to remove many of the financial barriers so that kids could try the game he adores “Morehouse stated.

Crosby has made it a goal to allow children to participate in the sport he enjoys. Getty Images/NHLI/Joe Sargent

The CEO and his captain urged both sponsors to fund every item of equipment the players need, including their jersey and a gear bag.

“When we initially produced the jerseys, the intention was for each player to wear a different number. Everyone, however, desired the number ’87.’ As a result, Sid’s number was on every shirt “With a giggle, Morehouse added.

The squad had 400 youngsters between the ages of 4 and 7 join up for the program in its inaugural year, in 2008. The Penguins routed the young players to their local rinks to sign up for learn-to-skate and learn-to-play programs, despite local rinks’ fears that the initiative would take away revenue. Morehouse said the program led the nation in growth for this kind of youth hockey organization for many years when enrollment soared to 1,000 participants the following year. Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, the organization distributed about 2,000 units of protective gear per year.

Morehouse believes that 14,000 young athletes have been hatched by Sidney Crosby’s Little Penguins since the program’s inception. Pittsburgh also has a Penguins Elite program and has partnered with a local high school to develop a hockey academy near their Cranberry practice site. It’s built a pipeline for local youngsters that has already produced a possible lottery selection in the NHL draft next summer: forward Logan Cooley, who moved from “Sidney Crosby’s Little Penguin” to the United States national development team.

“It’s a program that raised eight-and-under engagement in hockey by 50%, female participation by 70%, and overall participation by more than 50%,” Morehouse said.

“Sid was the one behind the wheel. He has a real passion for the sport and a genuine desire to get more children involved. The game of hockey is a gift that may be shared.”

Sid’s Teachings

Crosby is a “top five, if not a top-three talent to ever play the game,” according to Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov. But it was away from the ice that he realized how much he admired the Penguins great.

Crosby was the first person he met at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Finnish center had hurt his leg and was using crutches to get about. When Crosby spotted him, he was exploring the Olympic Village with his mother.

“He and his family came over to check how I was doing. He’s the greatest celebrity to ever play the game, and I was this tiny 18-year-old who just made it to the NHL. And he just approaches me and inquires about my leg “Barkov said. “He’s one of the most pleasant people I’ve ever met.”

Crosby’s clutch play and leadership inspired Makar. “For me, he was a role model. Even if it isn’t NHL, the Golden Goal in Vancouver is one of my favorite memories of him. For Canadians, it was such a great period “he said “He conducts himself in a unique manner. He’s a natural leader, both inside and out.”

In 2010, Sidney Crosby’s overtime game-winning goal made Olympic history. Getty Images/Harry How

Crosby is first and foremost a hockey lover.

The best of all-time hockey players all seem to have an insatiable desire to play the game. Wayne Gretzky enjoys telling anecdotes about how he disguised himself as a customer to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame. (Getzky owns the record books, so it’s possible he simply misses his possessions on display.) Crosby’s hockey love is well-known, particularly among Penguins fans.

In 2010, when Pittsburgh hosted the Winter Classic, the team built an outdoor rink on the city’s South Side. Crosby requested Morehouse for a key to the rink and for the lights to be turned on one day. He got onto the ice and skated alone at the intersection of 26th and — what else? — Sidney Street without fanfare.

“He just wanted to go out on his own. Hearing the sound of his skates on the ice was comforting “Morehouse said.

Crosby also got into the Penguins’ office staff hockey team at one point. In the offseason of 2015, there was a championship game. Crosby appeared in goalkeeper gear, masking his true identity. No one had any idea who he was.

“He always saw himself as a goalkeeper since his father was one,” Morehouse added. “Sid is a hockey fanatic.”

“We placed Sid on another planet from where we were when we were kids,” Nathan MacKinnon said. “We adored everything about his game, but we never imagined we’d be able to compete with him.” Getty Images/NHLI/Joe Sargent

Crosby doesn’t mind being called a “role model” because of his passion for the game and desire to improve it. He’s very aware of the impact he’s had on a generation of players.

What does he think they’ve learned from the previous 17 seasons of watching him?

“There are probably just two things. Every night, a willingness to compete. You never want to take playing in the NHL for granted, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. It’s exactly what we’d all hoped to achieve “he said “As well as a desire to improve. We’ve all come with our own set of skills and abilities. However, once you’ve arrived, there’s no need to stop studying. It’s time to improve, and perhaps the players will notice.”

As MacKinnon watches Crosby, he notices his progress. He’s no longer referred to as “the Kid.” Despite this, he continues to be a strong player, outskating Father Time.

“I’m not sure he gets enough credit for what he’s accomplished in his 17th year. Going into Year No. 19, everyone is talking about LeBron [James]. But Sid has been doing it for a long time, and his ability to remain at the top of the league is incredible “MacKinnon said.

“When he first entered the league, I was ten years old. He has always been a role model for people my age. He is without a doubt our generation’s finest player.”

That is, the Crosby generation.

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Sidney Crosby is one of the NHL’s young stars. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain has won two Stanley Cups, and was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy in 2009 when he led his team to victory over the Detroit Red Wings. He also holds numerous other records and accolades that make him one of the best players in hockey history. Reference: sidney crosby age.

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