Long-time Sidney Crosby teammate and friend Kris Letang would not divulge just who had the idea for all Pittsburgh Penguins to wear Crosby’s No. 87 during warmups, or where the idea originated for the entire team to stop warmups and tie their skates in unison with Crosby, for whom that is a pregame ritual.
It was a day and night of tribute.
“To see all of the guys in No 87 jerseys, I didn’t see that one coming. It’s a little odd when you first see it. It reminds you how special the night is,” Crosby said. “To see them all tying their skates at the same time, I had a really good laugh. I didn’t expect that. That was pretty good.”
Here’s the picture from above.
Letang gifted his friend with a pair of goals in the Penguins 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night. The game was also Crosby’s 1000th game with the Penguins. Crosby became the only Penguins player ever to play 1000 games for the franchise.
Following the game, Sidney Crosby talked openly about the outpouring of tributes, which went beyond the warmups, the special collage, or the commemorative wristwatch. The Penguins organization honored their captain all day, which Crosby admitted altered his preparation.
Crosby got emotional, as did his longest-tenured teammates, Evgeni Malkin and Letang.
“We’ve been through so much together. To player here together, to basically come in as young players trying figure things out, go through what we’ve gone through, whether individually its injuries, being there to support one another, winning championships together,” Crosby said. “There’s a lot of history there, a lot of great memories…
It was definitely had to keep it together. It didn’t help when I looked over and saw Geno having a hard time, too. It was a special day and special night, and those guys are a big reason for it.”
Letang presented Crosby with a special collage created using photos from each of Crosby’s first 999 games. Malkin presented Crosby with a silver-plated stick.
And, for the first time in Crosby and Malkin’s history, a No. 87 was the last person out of the tunnel onto the ice for warmups.
Believe it or not, “Sid the Kid” has now played 1000 games. Not only did Letang score a pair of goals, including the game-winner, but Crosby assisted on both.
It was a fitting little bookend, though Letang won’t get either puck.
“Those are collected by (equipment manager Dana Heinze). (Crosby) is going to be the one who’s going to keep them. It’s his night,” Letang said. “It’s a special one, and I think he should keep those pucks, especially the one at the end that won us the game. It’s a pass not many players can put it through defenders like that.”
“I’m just going to keep my warmup jersey,” Letang laughed.
The Penguins were not at their best on Saturday night. The team was never in a rhythm and relied on an outstanding performance by goalie Tristan Jarry.
Since Jarry stole two points in regulation, the Pittsburgh Penguins elevated to a tie with the New York Islanders, the Philadelphia Flyers, and Washington Capitals for fourth place in the East Division. The Penguins have fewer wins in regulation or overtime but have a better winning percentage than New York.
PHN did not grade the Penguins’ performance very well at all. Only Jarry received an A grade in the Penguins report card, but the team’s ability to get two points despite not being at their best, or close to it, is in some ways just as satisfying.
Perhaps the momentous occasion affected everyone.
“In the different experiences I’ve had, I’ve always tried just to treat it like a regular day, and that was pretty much impossible today,” Crosby admitted. “With the way that everyone treated me and all of the little things, it probably wasn’t easy for guys to prepare for the game and get ready with all of the stuff leading up to it.”
Classic Sidney Crosby. Still worrying about teammates.
Throughout the game, the Pittsburgh Penguins played tribute videos from current and former teammates, including Bill Guerin, Phil Kessel, and Marc-Andre Fleury. Crosby’s boyhood hero, Steve Yzerman, sent well wishes, and TV timeouts were filled with more tributes.
Here is two-time Stanley Cup champion Phil Kessel
A message from two-time Stanley Cup Champion Phil Kessel ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/JKgCpULw0K
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 21, 2021
Here is the Flower, Marc-Andre Fleury. After being selected by Vegas in the 2017 expansin draft, Fleury kept the seat beside him on team charters open to honor Crosby.
Time flew by, but the pucks didn’t (according to Marc-Andre Fleury). pic.twitter.com/DxJulaNxrZ
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 21, 2021
Sidney Crosby is the third leading scorer among players who played 1000 games with one team. Yzerman had 1323 points in his first 1000 games with Detroit. Bryan Trottier, who finished his career with the Penguins, had 1291 points with the New York Islanders, and with two assists on Saturday, Crosby scored 1278 points.
The Penguins captain did become the first Penguins player to reach 1000 games exclusively with the Penguins. He played 313 games at PPG Paints Arena and 134 games at Mellon Arena.
“He’s been giving so much to all of his teammates throughout the years. To get that win for him was huge,” said Letang. “We’re pretty happy to get out of this building and maybe have a little glass on his 1000th game.”
This story is exactly 870 words. Congrats, Sid.