The Pittsburgh Penguins won the draft lottery for the right to select Sidney Crosby first overall exactly 10 years ago today. Since then, Crosby has made more than his fair share of highlight reel plays, but there are 10 Crosby moments in Pittsburgh that truly stand out.
Exactly 10 years ago today, after the conclusion of the lockout and with a new season on the horizon, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the right to the first overall selection in the 2005 NHL draft via the draft lottery, a victory that has changed the franchise forever.
With major junior phenom Sidney Crosby as the consensus first overall pick, there wasn’t much for the Penguins to consider other than what color suits or ties they were going to wear on draft day.
But once Crosby was selected, the expectations were still at an all-time high. The club, which had struggled to a 23-47-8-4 record in 2003-04 and a league-worst 58 points, was expecting Crosby to deliver them the championship caliber teams of the early-1990s. Crosby has more than lived up to the hype.
Over his 10-year career, Crosby has notched 302 goals and 853 points in 627 games, but there are certain highlights that stand out more than others. Here are his 10 best moments as a Pittsburgh Penguin:
10. Captain Crosby – May 31, 2007
Crosby became the youngest captain in NHL history when Pittsburgh named him as their leader late in the 2006-07 season. At 19 years, 297 days old, Crosby bested the previous mark set by the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vincent Lecavalier by 18 days.
“It’s a privilege to be captain,” Crosby said at the time. “It’s something I have always dreamed of and to get this opportunity is exciting for me. I understand that there is going to be a lot more responsibility on my shoulders with this, but it’s something I am ready for.”
Gabriel Landeskog has since bested Crosby’s mark, being named captain of the Avalanche at 19 years, 286 days old.
9. Hat trick against the rival Flyers – Oct. 28, 2006
Crosby was introduced into the Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh rivalry early in his career and, though he drew the ire of the Flyers faithful throughout his rookie season, he quieted the crowd in his sophomore campaign with an early-season hat trick during a Penguins rout. The game ended 8-2 and Crosby scored a goal in the first period and two in the second.
8. Recchi sets up Crosby for diving goal – Jan. 7, 2007
During Crosby’s first few years in the league, he played in a way that was putting him on the highlight reel just about every single night. But the one goal from his first few seasons that stood out most was his diving marker against the Tampa Bay Lightning in his sophomore season.
On a 2-on-1 break with Mark Recchi late in the second period with time winding down, Crosby drove to the net and left his feet to make contact with a Recchi pass. Crosby’s stick got enough of the puck to direct it home. To this day, the goal still finds its way into Crosby highlight reels.
7. First career NHL goal – Oct. 8, 2005
The obvious highlight of any player’s NHL career is their first goal, and fans in Pittsburgh didn’t have to wait long to see ‘Sid the Kid’ notch his first tally in the big league. In his first two games, Crosby had registered two points, both assists, but both came away from home ice. In his third career game, at home against the Bruins, Crosby found the back of the net to extend a second period Penguins lead to 6-4. Unfortunately, Crosby came out on the losing end in the game, as Boston won the contest 7-6 in overtime.
6. Crosby downs Canadiens in shootout – Nov. 10, 2005
There’s not many children who grow up to faceoff against the club they idolized growing up, but Crosby got his chance early in his first season when the Montreal Canadiens came to town. Much was made of the tilt and Crosby came to play. Seven minutes into the contest, Crosby scored the games opening goal, but the real magic came in the shootout, where Crosby scored a backhand goal that sent Canadiens netminder Jose Theodore’s water bottle sailing through the air.
5. Winter Classic heroics – Jan. 1, 2010
The inaugural Winter Classic between Pittsburgh and Buffalo was supposed to bring us classic NHL moments, and it delivered in a big way with the game’s brightest star scoring the game-winning goal in a shootout. With snowfall surrounding him, Crosby plowed the puck through the terrible ice conditions onto a patch of ice that had been cleared, deked out netminder Ryan Miller and slid the puck home to crown the Penguins as champions of the first ever Winter Classic.
The image of Crosby’s celebration has become one of the iconic NHL photos of the modern era.
4. Crosby’s individual effort against Ottawa – April 16, 2010
There are certain goals that become synonymous with players. Steve Yzerman’s top-shelf blast against the St. Louis Blues stands out. Bobby Orr’s diving Stanley Cup-winner is another. But for Crosby, one of the goals he’s most known for is one he didn’t even score, but it was his effort that helped set it up. Unfortunately for Jason Spezza, he’s also remembered as the player Crosby ran ragged.
3. Crosby embarrasses Flyers with six-point game – Dec. 13, 2006
If getting beaten by a sophomore Crosby for three goals in October stung the Flyers, it must have been a somber dressing room following his monster six-point night. The Penguins again laid a beating on the Flyers, this time 8-4, with Crosby notching a goal in the first frame and proceeding to assist on a Sergei Gonchar power play tally in the first, all three Pittsburgh goals in the second and notched his sixth point on a power play marker by Michel Ouellet.
2. Back from concussion, Crosby scores four points – Nov. 21, 2011
After suffering a concussion, Crosby was sidelined for 10 months and there was worry that his game would never be the same once he returned. But when Crosby stepped back on the ice for the first time in nearly a year for a November tilt against the New York Islanders, he dazzled early with a goal less than six minutes into the game. He proceeded to follow it up with assists on the next two Pittsburgh tallies and an early third-period goal to seal the win.
1. Crosby, Penguins win Stanley Cup – June 12, 2009
For the second consecutive year, the Penguins and Red Wings faced off in the Stanley Cup final, but the result was different in the second battle. The Penguins had staved off elimination at home in Game 6 with a 2-1 victory and headed back to Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena for the chance to beat the Red Wings. The hero, however unlikely, was Max Talbot, who scored twice, several minutes apart, in the second frame to clinch the Cup for Pittsburgh.
The Stanley Cup victory was the third in Penguins history and, while the team hasn’t been back to the final since the victory, they’re a perennial contender. It’d be a safe bet to guess that before his career is through, Crosby will be hoisting the trophy at least one more time.