Offseason 2012: First Crosby Rumors of the Year

Yesterday, Pittsburgh sports radio pundit Mark Madden told listeners on 105.9 the X that he heard Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby reportedly wants a deal worth $125m over 14 seasons, equating to $8.92 million per year. The Penguins and Crosby’s agent can officially begin negotiations on July 1, leaving one year remaining on Crosby’s current contract.

Considering that he makes $8.7 million now, the dollar amount is a bargain for the Penguins — especially if the salary cap goes up after the next collective bargaining agreement.

The obvious point to consider is the contract length. Fourteen seasons is a long time — an entire career for most hockey players. But more importantly, it’s a long time to sign a player with concussion problems.

The Penguins nor their fans will forget the agonizing days during Crosby’s recovery. We didn’t know if he would play again in the 2010-2011 season or EVER AGAIN. And then after his second setback in this year’s regular season, doubts were at an all-time high regarding Crosby’s ability to take hits without re-aggravating concussion symptoms.

I remember asking myself if this was something Penguins fans would have to go through every season until an early Crosby retirement. How long could the captain possibly last in the NHL if he couldn’t take an occasional hit up high? Whether the NHL cracked down on head-shots or not, the accidental hit would still undoubtedly occur.

But fortunately Sid recovered from his second head-shot and was able to play in the final 28 games of the season including six playoff games. In that span, he still collected 37 points with eight goals in the regular season and eight points and three goals in the playoffs.

Those were numbers posted by a guy coming off of a brain injury with far less time on the ice practicing his craft before hand. Now that he’s completely healthy again by all accounts (including his own), he has the opportunity to conduct a full offseason without distraction.

The last time he was able to do that was the summer before 2010-11. And if you remember that season, you remember why he’s the best player in the NHL. In 41 games, he had 32 goals, 34 assists and was on pace for 64 goals, 68 assists and 132 points. And during that span, he had a 25-game point streak in which he notched 27 goals (including three hat tricks), 24 assists, and 51 points.

To me, there’s no debate about whether or not to give him this contract. It’s a great big, bold, double-stamped YES.

Sure, there’s risk involved. But there’s always risk involved in a collision sport like hockey. Any player’s career could end on opening day this fall — especially if the NHL doesn’t start to crack down more on hits to the head. But when you’re dealing with the best player in the world, you give him what he wants.

If Crosby stays healthy, the Penguins will sell out for at least 14 more seasons and probably have a chance at the Stanley Cup for all of them. As Madden said on his show, that contract “gives the Penguins a license to print money.”

Penguins GM Ray Shero could also go a different route by offering Crosby more money, but fewer years on the contract, so his past concussion problems wouldn’t be as big of a liability.

I’m guessing Crosby would be a lot less receptive to that idea. If the whole issue was about money, Crosby would ask for a lot more money, not just $228,571 more per year. Sid is financially set for life, he doesn’t need more money.

It’s the length of the contract that’s the primary issue for Sid.

And let’s say that Shero did offer him fewer years and more money and Crosby doesn’t accept. Do we really want there to be negotiation issues and possible bad blood? What if he holds out and there’s a ton of drama and uncertainty. I wouldn’t expect that to happen, but you never know when you’re dealing with a player’s livelihood, especially one with as much popularity in Pittsburgh as Sidney Crosby. Contract negotiations can be a real pain and create real distractions. Crosby doesn’t want that. Shero doesn’t want that. The fans don’t want that.

Signing Sid for forever for whatever amount is a good deal for Sid, the Penguins, the city of Pittsburgh and the NHL.

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About Pete Dombrosky
Pete is a graduate of Penn State University and a life-long Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates fan. He covered men's hockey, golf, tennis, swimming and the enterprise beat as a reporter at the Daily Collegian, Penn State's award-winning, independent student-operated paper. He currently serves as the Assistant Managing Editor for Thrillist Media Group (www.thrillist.com).

2 Responses to Offseason 2012: First Crosby Rumors of the Year

  1. Glen Freeman says:

    Additionally, if he does get hurt and his career is finished (knock on wood it doesn’t happen), the money he is still owed on his deal does not affect the salary cap. He can still get paid, but it will not affect the rest of the team, cap-wise.
    Good article, Pete.

  2. Absolutely sir. Thanks Glen!

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