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Leader & Icon, Sidney Crosby is Penguins’ Masterton Nominee



Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has entered rarified circles in career achievement this season by tying Wayne Gretzky’s record of 19 seasons with at least a point per game, passing all-time greats on his way to 11th on the NHL all-time scoring list, and has led his team back into a playoff race, a task thought to be impossible.

Today, the local chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association selected Crosby as the 2024 Penguins’ nominee for the Masterton Trophy. PHWA members also vote on the winner.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was the Penguins’ 2023 nominee and eventual winner of the Masterton Trophy.

The award is given annually to the player who “best exemplifies qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.” It is named for 29-year-old rookie Bill Masterton of the Minnesota North Stars, who was checked in a game on Jan. 13, 1968. He fell backward, hitting his head on the ice. He was carried off the ice, unconscious, and tragically died two days later.

Crosby received seven of the 13 first-place votes for the award. Jeff Carter (3), Jesse Puljujarvi (2), and Bryan Rust (1) were the others receiving first-place votes.

While this writer cannot speak for others, the vote was easy. No player has shown such admirable and extraordinary dedication and love of the game of hockey. While other players are winding down, if not done by 36 years old, Crosby is as good as he’s ever been and has undertaken the Herculean task of carrying his team this season.

His incredible season is not solely due to his immense gifts but also his legendary work ethic. Moreover, he is an icon who uses his status to impact hockey in positive ways, makes time for fans, and sets a standard of excellence within the Penguins organization.

Sidney Crosby is more than just dedicated to hockey. For nearly 20 years, he is hockey.

This season, Crosby has 39 goals and 84 points. He’s 17th in scoring, but with one more goal, he will become just the fifth player in NHL history to score 40 goals at age 36 or older.

With 1586 career points, he’s also just four points behind Phil Esposito for 10th on the NHL All-Time scoring list. It’s the litany of accomplishments and the untold numbers of fans who have had a moment with Crosby. It’s the leadership in the room. It’s the leadership of the game. All are undertaken without the slightest complaint but rather with an embrace.

“I think he’s handled that role with such integrity and such grace. I think he understands the impact he can have on the game, our league, the fan base, and the next generation of players. And I think he takes that responsibility seriously,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He carries himself with such grace and integrity … He’s been the face of the league for almost two decades now. You couldn’t ask for a better person to represent our game like he’s done.

“So I think all of us can learn from the example that he displays on a daily basis, just how he interacts with kids, how patient he is when they’re looking for autographs. We witness it every day. And some of the small gestures for me are the ones that mean the most.”

Crosby’s impact on the game is widespread. For example, Arizona Coyotes rookie Logan Cooley is a graduate of Crosby’s “Learn to Play” initiative in which new players receive free equipment and their first levels of instruction.

No one who saw it will soon forget Crosby playing tag on the ice with youth teams at his home rink in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, following the Penguins practice the day before a preseason game in Halifax. More than a couple of players were trying to get tagged by their idol.

It’s not only public moments like that that define Crosby, but the leadership, too.

“I think the biggest thing he does — he’s not a rah rah guy. He’s not an overly vocal guy — I just think he has a quiet leadership about him. He leads by example,” Sullivan said. “His work ethic, his competitiveness. I think he’s very aware of the impact that he has on the players around him, in particular young players.

“There’s a lot of pressure when you play with a player like Sid, and I think he does just a terrific job mentoring guys. And there’s been a number of them over the years. Conor Sheary is one. Jake Guentzel was another. Those are two really young players that we put with Sid right away, and I think he had a huge influence on their growth and development as players.”

At 36, when many players are settling up, becoming complementary players, or ready to step away, Crosby has again stepped forward with a season that almost defies description. It’s not supposed to be this way, but his work ethic and desire to continually improve set him apart.

The competition, being part of the group, and the playoff series—some won, some lost—are the fuel to the fire.

“It’s definitely good to be rewarded when you work hard. I think that always pushes you a little bit more. It’s a little bit easier that way,” Crosby said. “But ultimately, you understand that it’s not going to get easier as you get older, and you’ve got to put the work in, if not more, because of that. I think the driving force is always I have to do my best to help the team win.”

Crosby has been the Penguins’ driving force for 19 seasons.

“The biggest thing for me in watching his leadership over the years is that he’s a guy who’s willing to do what it takes to win,” said Sullivan. And his example speaks for itself.”

It should come as no surprise that Crosby was a little bit sheepish when speaking about being the nominee. He felt a few others should have been selected ahead of himself.


But perhaps his accomplishments, born of a fierce work ethic that shows no sign of abating, are so impressive that we couldn’t help but recognize his dedication and perseverance to the sport.

“I think just having a passion for it. Just enjoying the competition and competing,” said Crosby, who spoke to a small group of voting reporters Thursday. “And it’s just something you can only do for so long. So, I want to make the most of the time I have to be able to do it.”

Sidney Crosby is one of the greatest to play the game. He’s defined the generation and what it takes to succeed for the team and the game.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now had three voting members.

The voting: