Pens' Crosby comfortable with 'C'
Upon taking over as coach Dec. 15, 2005, Michel Therrien knew where the Penguins were ultimately going -- wherever Sidney Crosby would take them.
As one of his first official acts, Therrien made Crosby, then an 18-year-old rookie, an alternate captain.
"The plan was to groom him," Therrien said. "It was a big plan at the time."
Therrien's grand plan to have his club's best player gradually grow into the role of its unquestioned leader came to fruition Thursday when Crosby accepted the Penguins' captaincy.
"It feels comfortable," Crosby said of becoming the youngest captain in club and NHL history at 19 years and 297 days. "I know that to accept something like this you have to be in it all the way. I'm ready to take this responsibility."
Such was not the case prior to the start of last season or shortly after Christmas. In both instances, Crosby was offered a captaincy rank that had gone vacant since team icon Mario Lemieux retired Jan. 24, 2006 due to a heart condition.
Crosby politely declined each attempt to slap a "C" on the upper left chest of his sweater. Therrien called those respective decisions a true sign of the young star's growth as a leader.
"I knew after Mario retired that we had a special kid that was going to be our big kid for a long time," Therrien said. "He was not feeling comfortable having the 'C' before, and it was a big sign of leadership that he turned it down. We wanted him to be comfortable with being the captain."
Crosby appeared quite at home holding up a black Penguins sweater donning his familiar No. 87 and its new letter. That Lemieux, his landlord and owner, handed him the item was symbolic evidence that the hockey guard in Pittsburgh has officially changed.
"This is no surprise to anybody at all," defenseman Ryan Whitney said of Captain Crosby. "It's been his team for a while now."
General manager Ray Shero no doubt realized as much, which is perhaps why he continuously stressed that Crosby had "earned this captaincy."
"It's a natural progression that he becomes the captain," Shero said. "It's not because he's the best player, it's because of all the other things he brings to the table. He embodies what we want in terms of passion, hard work and the will to win.
"A lot of times the best player on a team is not the captain. But with Sidney it makes sense. This was not given to him. It was earned."
Crosby will turn 20 on August 8, and it is entirely possible by then that Shero will have provided him with something of even more value -- an offer to extend his contract well into the next decade.
Shero can begin negotiating an extension with Crosby on July 1. The Penguins will likely seek to lock-up Crosby through at least his arbitration-eligible years and possibly through his first few free-agent seasons.
Crosby said he is not thinking that far ahead. After all, contract disputes are unbecoming of a captain. Ask Vincent Lecavalier, previously the youngest captain in NHL history, who was stripped of his title in Tampa after missing part of the 2001-02 season due to a holdout.
"(Contract talks) are something that will be talked about more now," Crosby said. "It will be good to get some conversation going. With this going on it wasn't time to talk about a contract.
"We're going to talk ... but I'm more than confident that everyone is going to be happy with it."
Notes: Crosby said his broken left foot has healed. He added that he is ready to begin skating, though he normally does not hit the ice until July. ... Shero offered no update on talks to re-sign veteran forwards Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi. Shero extended contract offers to each player May 23. ... The Penguins will join Toronto, Ottawa and Florida in a four-team tournament consisting of each club's first-year, entry-level players starting Sept. 6 in Kitchener, Ontario. The tournament will precede the opening of training camp, Sept. 13. Team prospects participating in that tournament will include defenseman Kristopher Letang, center Ryan Stone and right wing Jonathan Filewich.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.