Sidney Crosby: At Career Game 1,000; Remembering The Brilliance From #87

Photo Credit: Gene J Puskar/AP

I spent the first part of my life feeling like I grew up at the wrong time to be a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. Born in 1988, I was too young to remember the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup in back-to-back years at the height of their existence.

Mario Lemieux. Jaromir Jagr. Ron Francis. So many big names. I remember my dad had a VHS recording of game one and two of the 1992 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. I watched that tape religiously as a kid. It got to a point where I could memorize that goal by Jagr. You know the one;

Yea that's the one.

It was amazing, and I would say that tape itself had a lot to do with why I became such a big hockey fan. But outside of that, I don't remember much of getting to watch Lemieux play at his height in the early 90s. Not living in Pittsburgh made it hard to watch the games consistently. No steady access to the internet made it hard to know when they were playing.

The years I remember really diving into hockey were the prime years for Jagr, after Lemieux retired for the first time. That four year stretch where there wasn't a better player on the planet than #68. Yea, that was my real introduction to hockey.

Not bad, right?

Then there was that little gap leading into the lockout. That one where Dick Tarnstrom led the team in scoring and Jean-Sebastian Aubin was supposed to replace Tom Barrasso, or something like that. He caught the puck with his right hand like I did when I played goalie in the basement with my brother, that meant something, right?

I felt I was cheated out of watching Lemieux play. Even watching his comeback, it wasn't the same as getting to see it from the beginning.

Then there was the lottery. Better known as the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes. The next one. This kid was supposed to break Wayne Gretzky's records.

And the Penguins got him.

I was a senior in high school during Crosby's rookie season. I remember my dad ordered NHL Center Ice so he can watch the games. I would drive the 20 minutes or so to his house to watch the games. Even on school nights. We immediately knew what we were watching was something special.

I was there for his first goal against the Boston Bruins. I watched him go backhand top shelf in a shootout against the Montreal Canadians. Against Philadelphia? Yea I watched him lose part of his tooth - and score the game winner in overtime.

Thanks Doc Emerick for making that moment that much memorable. 

His game winner in overtime against the New York Rangers that featured the same Jagr I grew up memorizing his legendary goal in the Stanley Cup Final? Yea I was actually in the stands for that one.

Once I graduated from high school I moved up to Pennsylvania to go to college. Didn't need Center Ice every game was available. I watched first hand to the youngest scoring title champion in North American sports.

My cousin, who didn't watch much hockey at the time, would come over and we'd watch the games and I'd break everything down for him and he came a fan instantly.

I got to see Sid lift the Stanley Cup against the Detroit Red Wings. Don't have to go to VHS for that one, that one is burned in my memories.

We had something special. The kind of thing you get to talk about and just be proud you were a hockey fan at the same time he played.

And then it was almost take away from us. Crosby took an elbow from Dave Steckl in the Winter Classic, followed by a hit into the boards by Victor Hedman that really did him in.

Concussions. The symptoms so bad that we honestly weren't sure if we'd get to see his brilliance anymore. We were almost robbed of one of the greatest to ever play the game.

Until we weren't, and in a fashion that you really feel like only Crosby could provide, he reminded us of what we had in front of us.

The captain of the Penguins scoring a big time goal after making a comeback, you don't say huh?

Crazy how things work out like that.

Already a Hall of Fame resume, he added in a couple more championships for good measure. 

There isn't much that Crosby hasn't done while on the ice, he's one of the few people who has played the game who you felt like with proper prep time he could literally do anything. Did I just compare him to Batman? Because I'm good with that.

Sure he's a playmaker, but that year he decided to shot more? 50 goals and a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy. Struggled in face-offs early in his career? Yea now he takes all the crucial ones in the defensive zone.

Having your best player also be the one who works the hardest isn't always the case, but when it is the possibilities seem endless, doesn't it?

So now, with Crosby set to play in his 1,000th career game, a feat never taken lightly, we remember that it's that much more special because this moment was almost taken from us.

It's crazy to think that Crosby is just a year older than me. I watched him grow from a kid to man at the same time I was growing into a slightly older kid with responsibility.

I got my first writing position writing about the Penguins, eight years ago as a matter of fact. At the beginning, I mainly focused on writing about baseball but everything kind of came together once I started on hockey.

There aren't many milestones left for us to celebrate for Crosby. There's Saturday night for sure. Then there's the eventual induction into the Hall of Fame, which no one is in a rush to see.

Whatever happens in-between Saturday and that night in Toronto, you can certainly be sure Crosby will have us on the edge of our seats.

Congrats on 1,000 games Sidney. You deserve this moment, just like everything else you have gotten in your career. Games 1-999 have been an absolute pleasure, and however many after that I have no doubt will be the same.

What's you favorite moment in the first 999 games of Crosby's career? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the link above, and follow me on Twitter AJ_Murfy.


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