Unleashing Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby is truly a marvel of today’s NHL. At age 29, he’s still the greatest player in the world. Having recently won both the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe trophy and the World Cup of Hockey as a member of Team Canada, he’s produced on every stage over the past year. What does 2016-17 hold for Sid?

Kane vs. Crosby

Patrick Kane's production exploded the year after he won his most recent Stanley Cup. - (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Patrick Kane’s production exploded the year after he won his most recent Stanley Cup. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Last year, Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane rode a Stanley Cup victory to a career high 46 goals, 106 points and MVP of the NHL. His previous high point total came six years earlier, with 88. Kane set a torrid pace last season, achieving multiple-point games with regularity until some time in mid-February when he began cooling off. But by that time, it was practically decided that he’d be the odds-on favorite for league MVP. And, while it wasn’t surprising to see Kane ascend, there’s a lot to be said about beginning the season as the league’s champion.

Could Crosby follow in Kane’s footsteps and explode for an MVP-worthy season? It’s difficult to imagine why it wouldn’t happen. Not only is Crosby one-upping Kane in that he is returning as a Conn Smythe winner, he also had the privilege of hoisting the World Cup of Hockey as well as winning the MVP of that tournament. Kane is good, but Crosby just lifted two separate championship trophies within a few months of one another. That’s special.

Sid Uncaged

Fans in Pittsburgh are no stranger to Crosby’s ability; his knack for being in the right place and, perhaps his most obvious quality, his drive to be better. For a player as obsessed as Crosby is with improving, he’s put a lot on his plate. Winning the scoring title, perhaps even the NHL MVP are realistic goals. Even with those goals, Crosby might be entering this season without much pressure.

Crosby exorcised the recent Penguins’ playoff demons this past spring. And with those gone, he can relax. Not that Sid knows anything about relaxing. Anyone who’s watched Crosby play in recent years can tell you that he exemplifies intensity. Having won his second Cup, he could now focus on generating chemistry with whoever his linemates will be, especially if one is a young player like Conor Sheary.

At this moment, Crosby’s doesn’t need to worry about another championship. That time will come. He can continue to better himself statistically. He can work hard to make his teammates complete players. He can dominate the game and when January arrives, he can again set his sights on moments like this one:

Now that Crosby’s achieved so much throughout the past year, he’s poised to steamroll through this one. He’s positioned to definitively prove to himself and the world that this is still his game. He’s twice a champion and a true mentor for the younger players. There’s no better way to lead than by example. And if that’s what Crosby intends to do, expect a maelstrom of production.