Penguins’ Sidney Crosby repeats as Conn Smythe winner
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With his 30th birthday less than two months down the road, Sidney Crosby has taken up a new hobby.
He’s really good at it.
After the Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators, 2-0, Sunday night to close out the Stanley Cup Final in six games, Crosby was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs.
He is the third player to win the award in consecutive seasons, joining Mario Lemieux and former Flyers goalie Bernie Parent.
He is the sixth player to win the trophy more than once. Patrick Roy won it three times. Lemieux, Parent, Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr won it twice.
“This feeling right now, you can’t match this,” Crosby said. “This is what it’s all about, and to be able to share that with a group of guys, and a lot of them that you’ve played a long time with and understand how difficult it is and what you’ve had to go through and that kind of thing, to share it with family and friends, you know, is just … that’s what it’s about.
“You have a small window to play and to have a career, and I feel fortunate, but I also understand how difficult it is, so you just want to try to make the best of it.”
In addition to a pair of Stanley Cup rings and the two Conn Smythe trophies, Crosby also picked up a gold medal at the World Cup of Hockey and the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league with 44 goals in the regular season.
Crosby has always been viewed as the ultimate competitor. His haul of trophies in the last 12 months has added to his reputation as a winner as well.
“That’s a competitive nature, I think, is just something that’s in me, and I think there’s lots of guys who are competitive out there,” Crosby said. “You look at our group, you look at everything we’ve been through, we’ve got a lot of guys who care a lot about their own game but also the guys around them. That’s part of playing on a team. You just want to do your part.”
Crosby’s most dramatic moments of the playoffs came in a second-round series with Washington.
He scored twice in the opener and followed that up with a two-assist showing in Game 2 as the Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 series lead. In Game 3, Crosby suffered his second concussion of the season when he was cross-checked in the face by Matt Niskanen.
He returned to the lineup five days later and recorded an assist in each of the last three games of the series to help the Penguins to a seven-game victory.
His signature moment of the playoffs, however, probably came on a play where he didn’t record a goal or an assist.
On the first shift of Game 5 of the final series, Crosby split a pair of Nashville defenders and drew a penalty as he rang a shot off the post. The Penguins scored on the ensuing power play, setting the tone for a 6-0 win.
Crosby finished the playoffs with 27 points, one behind the league-leading total of teammate Evgeni Malkin.
“I would have to believe that with what Sid has been able to accomplish in his career to this point would put him in the company of the all-time greats,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “You know, he’s arguably the best player of his generation, and he’s a guy that just knows how to win. 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.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.