Sidney Crosby leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins is a scary thought. Downright terrifying. Some fans would rather stay a night on Camp Crystal Lake property than see Sid the Kid go. Some fans would be worse. Sure he's a tad injury prone, but when he's on the ice . . . wow. His skill set is sickening for how amazing it is. From his speed and skating to his penalty drawing and faceoff winning, there is not much Crosby cannot do and do well. Point is, no matter how you feel about him, you know the Penguins are not rolling the Eastern Conference without him. Evgeni Malkin is great, but Sidney Crosby is better. Fallout better.
But what if temptation lures the NHL's golden boy out of the Steel City? What if another team, another city, cast their line and got a bite from this year's runaway MVP? Few clubs could reel Crosby in better than the Montreal Canadiens.
The Habs, who the Penguins play tonight, were Sidney Crosby's favorite team growing up. Childhood fandom might not mean a lot to other professional athletes, but hockey (like in so many other fields) is different. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, a pair of Minnesota natives, signed long-term, big money contracts with the Wild to play where they first fell in love with the game. David Clarkson turned down several teams last offseason to go home to Toronto to play for his Maple Leafs. If given the chance, would Crosby want to don that traditionally beautiful red sweater?
His father Troy came close too. The Canadiens drafted the former netminder but Troy never dressed for the Original Six franchise. Sidney's accomplishments would make any father proud and Troy has to be swelling with the stuff, but adding a stint with the Habs could break his emotional dam. It would be a amazing moment a father to share with his son.
And how that city loves him! In his rookie season, Crosby's first trip to Montreal made the Beetles and Rolling Stones look like chumps. Girls and fans and girls staked out the Pens hotels and getting Crosby on the bus could have involved a SEALs team. Crosby walks the down the street in Cincinnati and maybe he'll get noticed. He strolls down a Montreal back-alley wearing a fedora and trench-coat and he will need a airlift out of there. That picture in your head? Now toss in the Gold Medal he won for Canada. Crosby is loved in the Steel City. He is worshipped in Montreal. If he were to leave, that wouldn't be the reason but it helps.
This is not a new thing. Penguins fans have been sweating Sidney's departure since he got here. Remember, the Pens future in Pittsburgh was not set in stone when Crosby started. That bullet was dodged, but health concerns will always hovering over Sidney. Whenever Crosby lays on the ice for a moment too long after a big hit, the city collectively thinks, 'This could be it'. Given his history, it's a fair thought.
What if the Penguins start to stink again? What if the franchise needs a restart and begins calling teams for a deal? Calgary did it with Ignila. Boston did it with Bourque. Crosby's contract has him inked until 2025 and is equipped with a no-trade clause. It's the height of hubris to think the Penguins will be competitive for all those seasons. It would be hard to believe that if the Habs are contenders then that they wouldn't be on Crosby's list of suitors. Trading a aging Crosby for draft picks and prospects might spark the Pens. That day will be a sad day.
But that day is not today and it will not be here for at least a decade if it comes at all. Sidney Crosby is a Penguin and a Penguin he will remain. The Canadiens will have to gameplan against him instead of sewing his number 87 onto those red sweaters. For now, Sidney Crosby is a Penguin. For now.
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