Believe it or not, Sidney Crosby has won just two Hart Trophies in his storied 15-year career. It seems a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it? The Pittsburgh Penguins star is and has been widely viewed as the best on the planet for most of his career, yet individual awards have lagged behind on-ice success as critics and perceptions quietly dogged Crosby.
Critics didn’t overtly criticize Crosby because there wasn’t a lot to criticize. Still, the Penguins repeated playoff failures only reinforced whispers which arose during “Sid the Kid’s” early years in the league. Veterans occasionally chided the young Crosby for his sniping at officials.
Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser appeared on my radio show a few years ago. He told my audience about his terse exchange with the player during Crosby’s rookie year. Fraser likely cleaned up the details a bit, but the point of the story was Crosby’s constant complaints. Fraser said he pulled Crosby aside, “Kids across Canada have your poster on their bedroom walls. You need to set a better example.”
Take it from this writer who spent far more years covering hockey outside Pittsburgh than in it, including in the center of the hockey universe. Crosby didn’t always have a sterling reputation, especially amongst those who create reputations with barrels of ink and microphones.
“Crosby is great, but…”