TribLIVE
Blogs | Sports | News
Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

« Font size »
Decrease | Reset |Increase

Sidney Crosby, Penguin for life

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

THERE ARE GREAT ATHLETES, and there are great athletes uniquely associated with one setting.

That matters to some.

We’ve been blessed in Pittsburgh to have had Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Mean Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw and, yes, our greatest, Mario Lemieux, spend their entire careers here. There’s something special when that happens, here or anywhere. That person is linked forever with the city, the franchise, the people. That person gets a retired number, even a statue.

Welcome to the club, Sidney Crosby.

There never should have been a doubt.

With the news today that Crosby will sign a 12-year, $104.4 million contract that essentially will keep the Penguins’ captain here for life, the city has added another to that list. Moreover, he’s done so while giving up money in the process.

I prefer to reserve the word “sacrifice” for real sacrifice, not when a player gives up some cash on a nine-figure contract. But it shouldn’t be underplayed why Crosby gave up that cash and why other athletes — most recently Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder in baseball, but going back to Wayne Gretzky — will leave places they are loved for a few more bucks elsewhere. For some, the money just isn’t ever enough. But for some it is. Look in hockey at Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, Martin Brodeur, Jarome Iginla and others, and you’ll know why Shane Doan faces such a tough call this weekend in whether he’ll finally leave the Phoenix/Winnipeg franchise.

Moreover, let’s remember that Crosby’s clear motivation, aside from staying, is that he wants management to be able to surround him with other elite players to better his chances of winning another Cup. The Kid’s won one already, but he wants another. Or several.

Is it a risk?

Sure. Crosby’s missed months at a time with a severe concussion. His next hit could be his last. Even if the Penguins insure the contract heavily — and be certain they have — it’s still a shaky proposition to invest about half the franchise’s total value in that type of player.

But the way I’ve seen it all along, this was something the Penguins never should have hesitated to do. The best player in the world wants to stay here and do everything in his power, including financial concessions, to win a Cup. Good luck putting a price tag on that.

Now, about that winger …

Comments

  1. TK says:

    Coming off a contract where he averaged $8.7 million/year, he signs another that averages $8.7 million/year.

    He must really like the number 87.

  2. Vette60 says:

    Wow. Logged on to check out what was going on and saw this…12 years @ 104.4M. Quickly did the math & 8.7M a year.

    Awesome. I agree there’s a risk, but in my mind its worth it. Now hope with this being done the Pens are able to land a few big fish in the free agent market. Parise / Suter watch anyone…

    What will really be interesting is next year if Geno has another monster year, what happens there? Content to stay? I really don’t think the Pens would push past Sid’s number, but….

    Take it easy.
    Randy in Richmond, VA.

  3. Brian says:

    Not even a slight raise. What a human being. He just set the bar for Evgeni Malkin and anyone else that wants a contract from the Penguins. Building a competitive team is more important than making the most money. Sidney Crosby just set an unreal precedent.

  4. Rod says:

    He was born on 8/7/87 that’s why he wears #87.

  5. Boise Bucco says:

    That’s great news about Crosby, but I don’t think it bodes well for the Malkin negotiations that will take place next year. Crosby is obviously the face of the franchise, but Malkin just won the MVP–and as you wrote after the Staal trade, no one wants to be #2. How can we expect Malkin to take less money just because Crosby did? I don’t think we can, and I believe we will lose Malkin because of this contract.

  6. Roger says:

    Good read.

    Gretzky leaving was more complicated than that.

    DK: Yes, it was. But if Pocklington had the cash, 99 stays.

  7. Rocco says:

    I think you’re mistaken Boise….

    As I remember with the last contract, Malkin was content with making a little less (or the same, I can’t remember) than Crosby, much for the same reasons as Crosby took this deal. Obviously you could be correct, but to me, nothing in his past suggests Geno would demand an outrageous sum like Mike Wallace is trying to do with the Steelers.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Pens, it’s to trust Shero – other than the bad Michalek and Martin pick ups, he’s been pretty darn solid signing who he wants to sign. Just my two cents!

  8. NHL says:

    There should be no concerns about Evgeni Malkin and money for 2 reasons:

    1) Sid took a little less money to have better talent around him. Malkin MAY do the same but is more than within his right to ask for more. Malkin showed on his last contract that whatever Sid makes, he’s fine making. Contract-wise, that forces the perception of not being #1 or #2 but 1A or 1B.

    2) Let’s say Malkin wants more money than Sid. The very nature of Sid taking less money is to have better talent around him. I’m pretty sure Malkin qualifies and fits that position more than any other player in the league. So the Pens can give it to him if he wants it.

    Crosby didn’t take less to set the bar for max yearly contract, so there’s no reason Malkin can’t ask for more and receive it, but I don’t think he will. I see Malkin asking for the same amount on a shorter term, maybe close to an 8-yr 70 Mill (keep in mind Malkin can’t re-negotiate until the new CBA is in place, so there will undoubtedly be new rules for long-term contracts)

  9. Boise Bucco says:

    @Rocco — Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Malkin stay for the same amount as Crosby. Right now, he makes exactly the same as Crosby.

    But how fair is it to expect him to? 12 years is a long time, and it’s reasonable to expect that someone is going to sign for more than Crosby over the life of the contract. Someone WILL sign a $10M/year contract, and if it’s anyone, it ought to be Malkin, just based on stats and accomplishments. If anything, you could see the NHLPA raise a stink because Crosby’s contract will end up working against every other UFA for the next 12 years, setting up an artificially low salary cap. How could another player justify making more than Crosby? Malkin could.

    As awesome as it would be to keep Malkin a Penguin for life, I just don’t think it’s fair to expect him to re-sign with the Pens for the same money that Crosby makes, just to keep the team together.

  10. RobertoForever says:

    Fantastic move by Crosby. Earns enough to retire very wealthy, and takes care of the team.

    Who says Geno won’t take less money? Didn’t D-Wade AND LeBron take less to bring in Bosh. Some people do want to win more than take the most money. Let’s hope Geno is more like Mario and Sidney and less like Jagr.

  11. Jandy says:

    DK, thank you for this article. What Sid did says it all, but you made sure it got “out there”.
    Simply put, Sid is the best human to play hockey.

  12. Double T says:

    A lot of praise for Sid taking less and it is deserved, but would he do the same if he never got a concussion??? Hopefully Geno does the same, but if he demands more, they have to pay it. He deserves it!

  13. Rocco says:

    @Boise

    Yea, I agree with you that it’s not necessarily fair to expect it out of him – I know if I were in his shoes, it’d be a VERY tough call for me to make. And you’re right, that’s a very tough argument for anyone to make that they deserve more money than Sid (or Geno as the case may be), so the NHLPA could definitely go crazy about it. I’ve just always thought of Malkin as the type who would do something like that, but it is totally unfair to expect it out of him.

    The people that I worry about now will be Letang and Fluery when they’re contracts are up – if Malkin signs for the same as Sid, then that’s over 17 mil invested in two players. Either way, having Sid is what we need to be celebrating today, and we can wait till next year to freak out over Malkin lol

    Go Pens!!!

  14. Zack says:

    He doesn’t make 8.7M a year, he makes 10M a year for 9 years and then chooses if he wants to play the next 3 at ~3M a year or to retire.

    And there are players making more per year then Crosby, just at a lower cap hit. (And number 8 makes more per year AND has a higher cap hit.)

    So the argument of a artificial ceiling for payment is wrong. Also, is it really a problem only making 105M over 12 years?

  15. Ujn Hunter says:

    @Rocco We’ve had 17 million invested in two players for the past 4 years. :)

  16. Sherry says:

    I just knew that Sid would stay with the 87 model with this contract.

    I am in such admiration of Sid’s “purity” where hockey is concerned that I am going to give my not-official Armstrong jersey to my daughter and break down and get a real jersey with 87 and the C on it (just like I finally broke down and got a Hines 86 jersey for the first time a few years ago – I now live in San Diego, so real jerseys are kinda hot to wear).

    I don’t usually like to go with a jersey of a popular player, but Sid IS the game, he IS the Pens, and he IS Pgh – and I love all of those things and am very proud to be a fan.

  17. Boise Bucco says:

    You’re right, I really shouldn’t be raining on the parade today. This is great news–especially come Sunday, when it’s official.

  18. fatboy1271 (@fatboy1271) says:

    There was a recent article with Geno’s Father talking about what Geno cherishes the most… Looking at pictures of the Stanley Cup. I don’t know him, but from what he says in interviews and what is reported on him it truly sounds as though he and even his parents have adopted the city of Pittsburgh as home 1B. That makes me hopeful that he will want to continue with the Pens as he has. Maybe he talks to Sid and asks him if it’s “ok” to make more than him. As someone stated, maybe the new CBA changes everything. As long as he doesn’t go out in a fashion similar to Jagr he will always be up there with Swanny as a favorite athlete to me.

    Now about Sid: what a classy Man! Sidney is an awesome representation of how to behave as a professional athlete!!!

  19. AG says:

    Great day for Pittsburgh. Speaking of Doan, I think he would provide some veteran leadership that the Pens lack-a 1-year deal maybe. I think that in addition to bigger wingers, Pens have still not replaced that leadership, remember Sid and Geno still very young to wear the C and A.

  20. Jared says:

    This contract is a risk for both sides, just as pretty much all long term contracts are, specifically because you can’t see the future. What about injuries? What about salary cap? What about a new (or, given the term of this deal, more than one new) CBA? What about what other players want to do or be paid? But here’s the thing…you cannot predict any of that without a crystal ball at this point. So be happy. Ecstatic. And be even more ecstatic that the Pens have other guys who have absolutley shown that they’re willing to take less than the most they could earn in order to win with each other…how many other teams can truly say that?

    Phenomenal leadership by example on Sid’s part, and an outstanding display of commitment by the Pens.

    And just a couple of quick comments to Zach Parise (who I know is reading this, right?): I saw your face after the gold medal game. You looked like you were going to be sick, right there on the ice. You want to win. Badly. I know you wanted the next regular season to start the day after the finals ended this year, so you didn’t have to live with that feeling over the summer. You can win right here, both now and for years to come. You can win for an organization that’s undoubtedly committed to its players. And look at it this way…you can both win and have fun doing it. The two best centers in the world do wear black and gold, after all.

  21. Margie says:

    This is such wonderful news. I know they’re going to try to get Sid a wing but does it have to be Parise? Wings are past their prime after age 27. While even a past prime Parise would be an upgrade over his current situation, there’s no reason to pay 50 goal scorer money to a 30 goal scorer.

  22. z says:

    Hooray!! We signed the most accident prone player on our team, that actually plays better without him, to a 12 year deal!! I love wasting $104.4 million. At least when he gets injured for good he’ll have enough to retire.

  23. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Congrats to all you puck heads, especially Jandy.

  24. Mike C. says:

    just wow. kinda felt Sid would sign for less, but didn’t think it be THIS less for that length.
    congrats to Sid and the Penguins organization.

    I’m thinking Malkin’s agent is regretting his player doesn’t wear 99 instead of 71

  25. Joe S. says:

    I don’t think age should be a factor when determining leadership in the locker room. Sid was the youngest Captain to win the Cup. Toews did it after him. Dustin Brown did it at 27.

    Crosby didn’t set the bar for anyone. I doubt he cared about what pending free agents are going to ask for. Since sid is at 8.7 versus say, 10, that means Malkin can have 10. And that shouldn’t come as a problem. You can’t have both of them as a 10, and over the long run you know Sid will financially outperform Geno with endorsements and advertisements. And while 1.3 may not be much, it will definitely sign a role player that has been huge for the Penguins in the past…Steve Sullivan for 1.5?

    Happy for the Penguins, Crosby, and Pittsburgh Community. Good role model for the next 12 years.

  26. Bruce says:

    I think the most critical factor is if Shero can finally give Crosby the winger he needs. More than Suter and understanding he screwed up big time with Martin, Shero has to sign Parise. He also has to get rid of Martin and see what all his years of drafting D-man mean. There is no reason to sign Suter if it means losing Parise and i for one think if he does show he should be fired. Maybe harsh but look at what he has drafted and gotten for those pick in now 6 years. Whitney and Gogo were Patrick picks.

  27. Be Nice says:

    Gretzky left because Pocklington needed money, not because Gretzky demanded it. And Lemieux, for all the good he has done, as a young man refused to don the Penguins jersey because his demands weren’t being met, allegedly, at one point, demanded that he be the highest paid player in the league, and converted his debt into an ownership interest not out of a devotion to the city or team but because it was the best way to get what he was owed. None of this detracts from his legacy or from Crosby’s concession, but, I don’t think you needed to take an unjustified swipe at Gretzky to make your point.

    DK: If Gretzky cared about Edmonton, he would have stayed in Edmonton through the tougher times. He left for money.

    When the Penguins went bankrupt, Lemieux fought through the process to gain ownership and save the franchise for a second time.

    This isn’t close.

  28. Boise Bucco says:

    I’d rather see Malkin wear 99 than have Gretzky’s number retired in the house that Lemieux built.

    DK: Gretzky’s number will never hang in Pittsburgh until No. 66 is hanging in Edmonton, Los Angeles, St. Louis, New York and … am I forgetting any of Gretzky’s teams?

  29. MadTurk says:

    No matter the personal reason for Sid the Kid to sign the contract he did or speculating what Geno may or may not do in the future. Or even about setting any bar for players to sign for any team in the futue.
    The number one BEST thing is that greed took the biggest hit today.
    For that Thank you Sid and best wishes to you and yours in your hockey future and life.

  30. Be Nice says:

    Dejan:

    Pocklington received $15 million cash as part of the trade. He needed the money to prop up his struggling business ventures. Gretzky actually signed a 21 year personal services contract with the Oilers in 1979 as an 18 year old (talk about a commitment). The owner sold his most valuable asset to the highest bidder and it’s the asset’s fault for being greedy? The reference to Lemieux wasn’t to suggest that the Lemieux and Gretzky situations were comparable. Rather, I was making the point that these situations are often more nuanced, like Doan in Phoenix, and it’s unfair to slot people in boxes based on moral assumptions. In today’s sports landscape, for a player to play out a career in one city a lot has to go right. Pittsburgh is fortunate to have stable and well-financed ownership and a player who doesn’t feel the need to maximise his earning capacity (or, seen cynically, is savvy enough to recognize the long-term value of cementing his legacy and helping to create an environment to win multiple championships). It should be celebrated. However, put Crosby in the same situation as Gretzky and Crosby would have been a King as well (Gretzy did not have a no-trade clause).

  31. Officer Mancuso says:

    I’m spared from utter hockey illiteracy only by this blog, but let me say that this looks admirable on both Crosby’s and ownership’s part. And if Lemieux only saved the franchise from bankruptcy because he was resourceful enough to find a way to do so that would benefit him IF HE COULD MAKE THE TEAM A WORKABLE BUSINESS PROPOSITION, that’s a win-win-win, not a knock on Mario. Win for the franchise, win for Mario, win for the fans – oh, and win for a free enterprise system whose success depends on people motivated exactly the way he was, if we’re reading his mind accurately.

  32. Kevin says:

    I applaud the Penguins for signing Crosby to such a deal and don’t believe it is a risk at all. When you have the best player in the world in his prime wanting to play for you, you sign him. Period. The Penguins are a smart organization and they have undoubtedly insured the contract. If he gets hurt and can’t play, they’re off the hook financially. But what would have happened if the Pens had played the wait-and-see game? Well, it would have been a gamble they couldn’t have won. Sid might have opted to go elsewhere. Malkin may have seen it as a sign that the ownership wasn’t as committed. And other free agents would have been wary.

    Now, all those parties now the Penguins are serious about winning. This in no way guarantees that the Pens sign Suter, Parise or Doan, or any free agent. But have no doubt that the free agents the Pens are interested in are going to listen very carefully to what Shero has to say.

    I think this move makes Pittsburgh one of the NHL’s destination franchises: Good ownership, smart GM, good-guy coach, great building, strong fan base and loads of talent.

  33. Thundercrack says:

    Mario could have gone to New York or a team in Canada and made really big money for another year or two.

    And he may have never wanted to see the Penguins go bankrupt, collapse, and have the franchise leave Pittsburgh.

    But I truly believe that Mario fought through the bankruptcy process to get the money he was owed. Which turned out to be the ownership stake in the team.
    Nothing wrong with that. But I believe that was his motive.

  34. Arriba Wilver says:

    TC—you are right on. No problem with that, but to ignore that he was owed 40 some million is not looking at all the facts. There was more than an altruistic motive involved. Again , nothing wrong with that ( that all pittsburgers have to add just in case).

  35. Ashton says:

    First of all, the comments about Malkin, he will resign with the Penguins. He himself said this comment “I hope the ‪Pens‬ sign me too. I want to stay in Pittsburgh. I love Penguins hockey, the organization and the fans” Shero will make sure he will get good money but Shero will not offer more than 8.7 to any NHL player because of Sidney Crosby’s 8.7 a year, it wouldn’t be fair to Sid, and that being said, what Sid did, I’m sure Geno will do it as well. Sid and Geno are pretty much both #1 and face of the Penguins. It’s not just Sid, it’s as well as Geno and he should know that because of all the work he has done when Sid was out of the Line up. We have James Neal locked up for 6 years, Geno wouldn’t leave his #Lazy to not score goals, haha. But still, I’m really glad Sid is a Penguin forever. He has class, and he is unselfish. Has a lot of potential and want’s to win more Cups. Nothing wrong with that.

  36. Matt says:

    Somebody hit on it earlier but with a new CBA it is highly likely that there will be a cap on contract length to try and control teams “circumventing” the cap with these lower dollar years on the end or that practice will be abolished, thereby making shorter deals a financial necessity. When looking at the Crosby deal you have to look at the structure, he will get 10M a year for 9 years, until he is 35 before the lower years kick in. That is the real contract and establishes the going rate for an elite player. That will be the basis of any Malkin deal and it will almost certainly mean that Malkin’s cap hit will be higher than Crosby’s deal in the new CBA. That is why this is important for the pens to do this now, they know the ability to fit an elite player into your cap structure is going up.

  37. Eric Bowser says:

    Let’s say the league’s pretty much maxed out as a $3.3 billion industry, I don’t imagine the salary cap moving much higher than the $70-75 million range it is in now, with this season at $70.2 million.

    The Penguins long-term philosophy under General Manager Ray Shero is to have strength down the middle with a number one goaltender, deep defense, and highly skilled centers.

    Extending Sidney Crosby over 12-years at $104.4 million for annual cap hit of $8.7 million provides stability for the franchise and leverage for Shero next summer in contract talks with Evgeni Malkin. There has been no indication whatsoever that Malkin has any interest leaving Pittsburgh, so expect the reigning Hart Trophy winner to follow Crosby and sign his own deal next summer matching Crosby’s cap hit of $8.7 million per season.

    Project into the future for long-term deals for the core group of players
    Crosby – $8.7
    Malkin – $8.7
    Neal – $5.0
    Sutter – $4.0
    Letang – $6.0
    Fleury – $5.0
    subtotal = $37.4 million

    Let’s say Penguins really do sign Parise – $7 and Suter – $6, that brings the core group to $50 million for 8 players, leaving $20-25 million for 15 players. That’s not enough money to complete a team of quality players to win a Cup.

    I believe strongly, Penguins need to ditch this idea of going after Suter and invest long-term dollars with offensive production, draft defensemen, trade defensemen and once in awhile actually draft a point-producing forward.

    …looking at the potential cap, I don’t see how this team can afford to have such a large and expensive core group of highly paid players.

    DK: Great stuff, as always, Eric. But that 3.2B is going to keep going up and up. Has every year.

  38. Jason says:

    DK – I want to be “fully” celebrating the incredible contract extension of Sidney Crosby. However, I must say that a significant part of me is worried for what this could mean for signing Geno to a long term deal. Seeing one of the Big 3 leave makes me want to hold onto the other two all the more. One down…one to go….but I hope he’s not gone!!! I suspect that the upcoming free agent period will influence this, as well as the plans for Letang and Fleury. I hope you will be writing something soon on the prospects of keeping Geno. I keep thinking that this is a good sign to keep them both, but the consensus thinking is that he is likely to be traded now. Fingers crossed for the next 12 months, I guess….

    DK: It’s a legit worry, Jason. All Malkin has to do is wake up one morning and decide he really, really wants $14M a year, and all this is blown to bits. But there’s no precedent for it.

  39. Luv dat Hockey! says:

    RE Jason (38): as many other posters mentioned Malkin currently seems happy in Pit and they should be able to resign him even if it has a bigger cap hit. IIIIIFFFFFF they can’t though and he decides he wants to try something new…. all we can ask is he doesn’t “Staal” us and put him up for the highest bidder. We would still be able to get increadable return for him with 1 year on his contract looking for a new start (look at what is being asked for Nash who doesn’t have near the hard wear) so it shouldn’t be too concerning unless he plays us for fools a la jagr/hossa situation which I don’t think he will do as he seems to appreciate and respect the organization.

    PS> yay sid deal!

    DK: You know, I’m hearing more and more people link the Hossa/Jagr/Staal situations as if they have something in common other than choosing different teams. They’re otherwise TOTALLY different.

Other blogs
Sports: Rob Rossi | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | Sitting Ringside | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports | H.S. Sports Insiders | Trailing Off
News: This Just In | Trib List
» Top TribLIVE.com Sports
» Top TribLIVE.com News
» Top TribLIVE.com Breaking News