There will always be Gretzky. There will always be Lemieux. And right now, there’s Sidney Crosby. Whether or not you’re a fan of his play or his team, it’s impossible to deny he is one of the most elite players in the NHL today. But the same argument always seems to present itself: is he or isn’t he the greatest player of all time? Well, is he? Answer me, dammit!
Players like Lemieux and Gretzky may have the point records and the cup banners, but for me, that’s where it ends. Crosby is the definition of a consummate player. He’s a leader who is willing for fight for his team (whether or not you interpret that as whining is up to you), he’s an unstoppable forward who knows what’s happening at any given point on the ice, and he’s a friend to the community who donates his time and talents to charity in a genuine, unsuspecting way. Most importantly, though, he put the breath into a franchise that was gasping for air and changed the face of hockey for an entire city, if not the entire league. Crosby is a polarizing figure who continues to change the game from the ground up.
I don’t mean any of this as praise. It’s reality. Sid has won medal after medal, title after title, and can top off his credentials with a Stanley Cup. All of this within a quarter of a century. That last sentence, though, is what provides an answer the original question: No. Sidney Crosby is not the greatest player of all time.
Today, he’s turning only 25 years old. We have only experienced a fraction of his career, despite the legend of “Sid the Kid” that has been 15 years in the making. Whereas most players don’t reach a level of notoriety until the NHL, or even junior levels, the modern hockey world has been watching Crosby since he was 10 years old. It’s difficult for us to recognize the weight we put on him, because he handles it with such modesty (oh yeah…add that to the list).
You’re probably asking yourself why any of this matters. Especially considering Crosby’s career seems at a lull right now. After a disappointing end to his last season, and the injuries that have plagued him for far too long, it’s easy to forget every highlight reel-worthy moment. Yet, the Pittsburgh Penguins seem to be building with every game. There’s a dynasty in the making with Sidney Crosby at the forefront.
So then what’s holding him back from a title that seems so deserved? Right now, when we can still mention his rookie season and his Stanley Cup victory in the same breath, Sidney Crosby is not the greatest player of all time. But, give it 15 years or so. He’ll be sitting by the fireside, stroking his plush, finally filled-out beard with two hands covered in Stanley Cup rings and a plaque with his then-retired number perched on the mantlepiece. When that day comes, this post will no longer be valid. There will be no questions. Crosby will simply toss his majestic beard over his shoulder and whisper, “I am the greatest player who ever lived.“