Sidney Crosby, who won the National Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player award in 2007 and missed parts of the last two seasons with concussion symptoms and a neck injury, agreed on a $104.4 million contract extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Crosby can’t sign the deal until July 1 under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, the team said on its website. The 12-year extension, which goes into effect after next season and keeps the 24-year-old center under contract through the 2024-25 season, will cost $8.7 million annually toward the league salary cap, according to the Penguins.
After he played just 28 games in the last 18 months due to lingering effects of a concussion, Crosby’s new deal is the second most-expensive contract in NHL history, according to USA Today. It trails only Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who signed a 13-year, $124 million deal in 2008, the newspaper said.
“We look forward to having him in a Penguins uniform for the rest of his career,” Penguins co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said today in a joint statement. “He is an excellent player and an even better person, and he is a great ambassador for the Penguins and for Pittsburgh.”
The Penguins selected Crosby with the first pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. He scored at least 100 points in four of his first five years, including a league-high 120 points during the 2006-07 season, after which he was named league MVP. In 434 games, he has scored 223 goals with 386 assists, an average of 1.4 points per game.
A four-time All-Star, he led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup championship in 2009, at 21 the youngest captain in NHL history to win the league title. He also captained the Canadian team to the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
“In an era when players often move from team to team, it’s gratifying to see a young man who is so committed to one city and one franchise,” Penguins Chief Executive David Morehouse said on the website. “He’s meant so much to the Penguins, to the growth of youth hockey in Pittsburgh, and to the NHL and the game of hockey in general. It’s a tremendous feeling to know he’ll be here through 2025.”
Crosby suffered a concussion on Jan. 1, 2011, when he collided with Capitals center David Steckel. Crosby remained in the game, but played just once more that season, when a hit from Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman left him with severe concussion symptoms. Despite missing half the season, his 66 points were most on the team.
Crosby returned to the ice last November after missing the first 20 games of the 2011-12 season, but the concussion-like symptoms returned after seven games. He returned a second time in March, this time scoring eight goals and adding 29 assists in 22 total regular-season games.
Crosby will be 37 when the new contract expires. Should he remain in Pittsburgh for the remainder of his career, his talent and leadership could further comparisons to Lemieux, another career-long Penguin.
A 10-time All-Star and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Lemieux spent his entire 17-year career in Pittsburgh, winning Stanley Cup titles in 1991 and 1992, and an Olympic gold medal in 2002. He and Crosby were teammates for 26 games during the 2005-06 season. Crosby lived in Lemieux’s house during his first three seasons in the NHL.
“He’s a very special player and knowing that he will be here long-term is outstanding news for our players, coaches, staff and fans,” Penguins General Manager Ray Shero said of Crosby. “Sidney also brings those extra dimensions as our captain, with his leadership in the room and on the ice.”
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