To the surprise of many today, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they will be signing Sidney Crosby to a 12 year, $104.4 million contract extension. Under normal circumstances this deal would not even be questioned. Too bad for the Penguins that these are far from normal circumstances.
The Sidney Crosby concussion saga has done its part into making head injuries a hot topic all across North America. Following his second concussion in December, I said that Crosby was done. The jury is still out on that one but they are leaning towards a unanimous decision of him being just fine.
However, one bad hit and it might all be over. That’s the fear of anyone who cares about hockey.
Thing is, the Pittsburgh Penguins had no other choice. I guess they could have waited for him to play out the season but that’s not how you treat the best player in the world. Crosby made hockey relevant again in the city of Pittsburgh. They had to give him what he wants.
Ray Shero’s hands were tied, you know, with one of those really good sheepshank knots.
Until, or if, Alexander Ovechkin returns to his old form, Sidney Crosby is the only true superstar left in the NHL. And unlike the NBA, MLB or NHL, Sid, who is not so much a Kid anymore, is the consensus top player in the league. $104 million over 12 years may not be a price tag worthy of Wal-Mart but it’s more than fair.
All Ray Shero can do is kneel beside his bed and pray every night. Well, he might want to think about doing that in the morning as well but you get the idea.
Obviously, this is not a debate without the concussion questions surrounding Crosby. Even with the concussions though, the inevitable debate surrounding the contract extension is pointless. Sidney Crosby does not have to play 8-12 years to justify this decision of the Penguins brass to sign him to an extension with a year still left on his original 5 year $43 million deal.
The kid born in Halifax, Nova Scotia has already justified receiving this contract. He justified it when he came back from both of his extended stints up in the press box like he hadn’t missed a game. In 22 regular season games last year, Crosby racked up 37 points, which would have been good for 137 points if he had played the full 82 games. During his shortened 2010-11 season he was on pace for 132 points. Both would have been career highs.
The Penguins are aware of the risk. They simply had to overcome their worst fears to make this happen.
This is like the Portland Trail Blazers drafting Greg Oden. It had to be done.
Superstars are treated differently. Anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves. Crosby could, but hopefully not, go down the Brett and Eric Lindros hazy journey through post-concussion symptoms and it wouldn’t change anything about the thinking behind this process. The fact of the matter is, he hasn’t taken the scary journey down Lindros way, not yet. Who knows, as doubtful as it is, maybe the Penguins medical staff have some positive insider information on Crosby’s situation.
Hindsight is 20-20. Alas, the Penguins weren’t able to locate an authentic psychic. So like everyone else, they’re going into these next 12 years blind. The fate of the franchise resting on a head that is quite possibly as fragile your mother’s fine china.
But at this moment in time, I’m sure Ray Shero wouldn’t have it any other way.
Chris is a writer on Comedic Prose, and he also is the editor of Painting the Black.