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‘It’s just a number’ — Sidney Crosby celebrates 30th birthday with the Stanley Cup

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‘Sid the Kid’ isn’t really a kid anymore.

Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain and arguably the best player in the game, celebrated his 30th birthday on Monday and he did so with a very special guest — the Stanley Cup, a trophy he has hoisted three times in his National Hockey League career.

“It’s just a number,” Crosby told the Penguins website of his age. “When I think about that, it’s a number. Sometimes I don’t feel 30. Sometimes I do. It depends. I just try to enjoy things as much as I can. It’s pretty special to be able to do this on my birthday, share with everybody. I’ll just take that as a great experience and move on.”

Crosby brought the Stanley Cup to Halifax and then to Rimouski, Que., where he played his junior hockey before being taken No. 1 overall by the Penguins in the 2005 NHL Draft.

He has since gone on to what will be a Hall of Fame career. The Penguins have won three championships and been to the final four times since 2005. Not only does Crosby have a trio of Stanley Cup rings, he has twice won Olympic gold, scoring the winning overtime goal versus the U.S. in 2010 in Vancouver. It has become one of the iconic moments in Canadian hockey history, as he threw his gloves and stick into the air in celebration.

“It’s amazing how fast time goes by,” said Crosby, per The Canadian Press. “It makes you realize that it doesn’t get any easier and that’s why things like this (parade) — you have to enjoy it.”

There was a time, however, not long ago in which his career was completely sidetracked by concussions. In 2011-12, Crosby appeared in only 22 regular season games. He later opened up in an interview with CBC’s Peter Mansbridge about the prospects of his playing future given his concussion history.

From the Globe and Mail:

There were some dark days when the thought he may never play hockey again at the professional level entered his mind.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I thought about it,” Crosby told Mansbridge.

Crosby suffered another concussion during the 2017 postseason but didn’t spend much time out of action, returning to help lead Pittsburgh to its second Stanley Cup in as many years. For the second straight year, Crosby claimed the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Related: Crosby ‘in the company of all-time greats’

Sidney Crosby wasn’t aware of concussion talk during Stanley Cup run

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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) Sidney Crosby said Wednesday he did not pay attention to those questioning whether he should continue playing hockey after suffering another concussion during the playoffs.

Crosby was too focused on capturing another Stanley Cup for his Pittsburgh Penguins to worry about outside opinions on his health.

“I don’t really read or listen to that stuff during the playoffs,” Crosby told reporters at his annual hockey camp in his hometown of Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia.

Crosby has suffered multiple concussions during his career, including one during Game 3 of the second round against Washington in May. He missed one game before returning for Game 5, prompting questions about whether he should consider retirement.

The Penguins went on to win a second straight Cup, defeating the Nashville Predators in the final.

Crosby said he understands why concussions generate so much controversy.

“It’s a hot topic,” he said. “That’s the nature of it right now.”

He said more information on how to deal with head injuries is becoming available all the time.

“You have to continue to listen to your body to make sure before you go back that you’re good to go,” he said. “There’s things in place to help with that.”

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Sidney Crosby wins back-to-back Conn Smythe trophies

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Sidney Crosby did it … again.

While the Pittsburgh Penguins accomplished the rare feat of repeating as Stanley Cup champions, Crosby managed to win a second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy. This continues a trend of Crosby meeting and sometimes exceeding some of Mario Lemieux’s greatest accomplishments.

(“The Magnificent One” managed back-to-back championships and playoff MVPs himself, but Crosby has more Stanley Cup Final points and now owns an extra ring.)

Now, it must be said that like last year, the Penguins boasted plenty of crucial contributors beyond Crosby.

Evgeni Malkin is the most obvious alternative choice, actually managing one more point (28) during this postseason than Crosby, who generated 27. Matt Murray missed too much time to be a legitimate MVP choice, but he was sensational in crunch time once again. Phil Kessel and rookie sensation Jake Guentzel also provided plenty of offense for the Penguins.

The Penguins defied expectations in winning a Stanley Cup without Kris Letang. Ultimately, Crosby was the biggest reason why.

An eventful night for Sidney Crosby, who was brilliant for Penguins

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PITTSBURGH — Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final wasn’t even a minute old when Sidney Crosby put his stamp on it.

In a flash, Crosby took a pass and split the Nashville defense. He forced Ryan Ellis to take a holding penalty, got past him anyway, then whipped a shot off the post. No goal there, but the Penguins would score moments later on the resulting power play. They’d go on to hammer the Predators, 6-0.

It was a masterful performance by the Penguins captain, who finished with three assists and literally rubbed P.K. Subban’s face in it. Pittsburgh can win the Cup Sunday in Music City. If not there, then Game 7 will be Wednesday back at PPG Paints Arena.

“We had a great start,” said Crosby. “Wanted to make sure that we played on our toes. Obviously, getting a few goals helps, and then we followed up in the second. That’s how we need to play.”

They sure didn’t play that way in the first four games, even though they won the first two. Game 5 was by far their best performance of the series. It was a dominant victory.

Oddly enough, Game 4 might’ve been their second best, even though they lost it by three goals.

“There was a lot to like about that game,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “We felt as though there was a lot to like about that game. I think sometimes people can get fooled by the scores of games, but we don’t. We understand it. And I think we try to keep an objective assessment of our games.”

“I think we turned the page,” added Crosby. “Looking at (Game 4), we felt like we still generated some good chances. We felt if we did a few things differently and buried those chances, we’d give ourselves a chance to win.”

Oh, and for the record, Crosby didn’t intentionally throw that water bottle.

“I made a gesture and it came flying out of my hands,” he explained. “I didn’t try to throw it. I know it ends up on the ice, but I wouldn’t start throwing water bottles at this point. I remember being surprised when it came out of my hands and thinking, ‘Great.’ But I have a better arm than that.”

It was a nasty Game 5, in an increasingly nasty series. Near the end of the first period, Crosby got mixed up behind the net with Subban. The two stars went to the ice and skirmished for a few seconds. They each received two minutes for holding.

What happened during that skirmish depends on who you asked.

“He lost his stick, and he was doing some sort of UFC move on my foot,” said Crosby. “I don’t know what he was trying to do. I was trying to get out of there. He had lost his stick and was just trying to hold me down. I was in some sort of lock there. I don’t know what it was.”

Predators head coach Peter Laviolette saw things rather differently.

“I don’t understand it,” he said. “I don’t understand the call. I saw my guy get his head cross-checked in the ice ten times. I don’t even know what he did, P.K. I’m not sure. I disagree with the call.”

Alas, neither Crosby nor Subban bit when asked if things had gotten personal between the two. They may have diametrically different personalities — one shunning the attention, the other craving it — but each chose diplomacy over escalation.

“Everyone’s out there trying to compete,” said Crosby. “He’s trying to do his job and I’m trying to do mine.”

“It’s just hockey,” said Subban. “It’s just hockey.”

And so we head back to Nashville, where you know it’s going to be nuts. On Sunday, the Penguins can become the first repeat champs of the salary-cap era. Or, the home team will win again and the Stanley Cup Final will have its first Game 7 since 2011.

As for Game 5, it may well be remembered as the game that Crosby won on his very first shift.

“I just think what separates him is his drive,” said Sullivan. “I don’t know that I’ve been around an athlete, not just a hockey player but an athlete, that is as driven as Sid is.”

Video: Is Sidney Crosby tired? Jeremy Roenick wonders if he is 100 percent

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Sidney Crosby finally broke through with a goal against the Ottawa Senators in Game 3, but it wasn’t anywhere near enough in a 5-1 loss for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs sometimes seem like a battle of attrition, and there’s no denying that the Penguins have been hit as hard by injuries as any team in the postseason. Crosby is no exception.

With that and just the sheer volume of hockey he’s played in mind, Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury wonder if number 87 is simply getting worn out. Is he 100 percent, whether it be a matter of injuries, fatigue or some combination?

Check out the video above for more.