The playoffs are “legacy” time for major sports stars who are a tad light in the championship department, most recently including Peyton Manning and in the coming weeks prominently featuring LeBron James.
Count the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby in that category, too. As “The Kid” enters Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night against the Sharks, he is no kid anymore at age 28 and still is looking for a Cup to bookend the one he won in 2009.
How important would a second title be to what already is a Hall of Fame resume?
“For me, look, to get to three Finals is something,” NBC analyst Ed Olczyk said. “I mean, that is incredible. But, look, we always want more from our best players. We always expect more from teams when you look at them, and the Penguins have had some opportunities and for whatever reason they haven’t been able to take that next step. And it’s been a while.
“But now they’re here. And a lot has to do with their leadership. It has a lot to do with Sidney Crosby. And there’s no doubt, I mean to me he’s going to the Hall of Fame. Without question, his accomplishments team-wise and MVPs and everything else that goes with it.
“To me, yeah, if you win another one that’s awesome. That’s great. Will that be something if he doesn’t? Will that be something that people will come back say, ‘He’s only won this and this guy’s won two or three?’ That’s for people to debate.
“But for me, without question, he’s done a lot for the game, and the numbers back that up. And the more you win, the more accolades you’re going to get and the more people will probably sit there and say, yeah, it’s a no-brainer.”
NBC’s Pierre McGuire agreed with Olczyk.
“I think anytime you compete for the Stanley Cup you’re adding to your legacy, but the truth of the matter, it’s a huge accomplishment,” McGuire said. “He would have played in three Stanley Cup Finals. He would have won two if in fact they do win, which is a long way to go to decide it.
“He has World Junior gold. He’s got World Champion gold. He’s got two Olympic golds. He’s won major awards. I think it’s a Hall of Fame career . . . I look at it and I would say that Sidney Crosby is well on his way to being a Hall of Fame player and has been for a long time.”
Olczyk briefly coached Crosby during his rookie season with the Penguins in the autumn of 2005. How has he changed since then?
“Well, look, there’s much more maturity there,” Olczyk said. “There’s a lot of experience, but I still see the same drive and passion from Sidney Crosby as I saw some 10 or 11 years ago.
“The drive that he has is really what separates him from a lot of players. I’m not just talking about in games. I’m talking about in practice and how he carries himself. So for me, you knew he was going to be an elite player. But with everything that comes with that, that is not easy.
“And, look, this is his third Final in his short career to this point. And that’s pretty good. Now, in saying that, there haven’t been many teams that have underachieved more than the Pittsburgh Penguins over the course of the last five or six years.”
Olczyk said the Penguins are a deeper team now, though, which he said “takes a little bit of the pressure off Sid and their better players. But as Pierre touched on a little bit earlier and as we talked about [during Game 1 Monday] night, he was flat out awesome [Monday] night. He could easily have had four or five points.
“But to me, it’s maturity. It’s experience and the drive to want to be a difference-maker every day, not just in games. I think that’s where he has separated himself from a lot of players in this league over the course of the last 10 or 11 years.”