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Crosby ‘in the company of all-time greats’

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins showed they had the heart and grit to grind out a second consecutive Stanley Cup title. Could they be ready for a three-peat?

NASHVILLE — For some time, there were serious concerns that injuries would keep Sidney Crosby from truly standing among the best players in NHL history. After tonight, it feels like Crosby’s making a case for already having a legendary career.

MORE: Crosby stands shoulder to shoulder with Mario Lemieux in many ways, including consecutive Conn Smythe victories.

Crosby isn’t even 30 yet and it seems like he’s checked off every box on an NHL player’s “to-do list.”

  • After tonight’s 2-0 win for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, he captained the first team to repeat as champions during the salary cap era. He matched Mario Lemieux in leading repeat Penguins champs and exceeded “Super Mario” with his third title.
  • Crosby also matched Lemieux in winning consecutive Conn Smythe Trophies. Merely getting two at any stage puts him in rare company: only Crosby, Lemieux, and Bernie Parent have won two straight.
  • The author of the “golden goal” won two Olympic gold medals with Canada.
  • If you’re more into bigger milestones, Crosby is hitting some big numbers for his career. He’s already exceeded 1,000 regular-season points (1,027) and 150 in the postseason (164).
  • Crosby earned his second Maurice Richard this season with 44 goals, providing company for his Hart and Art Ross trophies. Actually, you know what? This graphic captures most of the high points:

Sullivan is sold

Some might view such discussions as hasty, yet his coach and GM seem to think that the comparisons are quite reasonable. By Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan’s estimation, Crosby is already “in the company of the all-time greats.”

” ... You know, he’s arguably the best player of his generation, and he’s a guy that just knows how to win,” Sullivan said. “And so he’s done it in all different venues, whether it be the NHL and Stanley Cups to the World Cup to the Olympics. And he’s a player that -- and I believe this, what separates him from others is his work ethic and his willingness to do what it takes to be the very best.”

Yes, Sullivan and Penguins GM Jim Rutherford might be a little biased what with number 87 enriching their careers, but their endorsements remain resounding.

When you take a step back, it’s clear that Crosby has already put together the sort of career that most players would envy. For some, such accomplishments might make that hunger and drive go away, but Sullivan likely says it best: Crosby will continue to be driven by his “appetite to win.”