Sidney Crosby’s legacy in Pittsburgh goes beyond Cup
PITTSBURGH — Standing onstage at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles last month, a proud Mario Lemieux was surrounded by fellow members of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian and talking about how one of them, Sidney Crosby, had changed the fortunes of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“He saved our franchise again,” Lemieux said, repeating a phrase he’s uttered frequently during the 12 seasons since that fateful day when the Penguins won the 2005 NHL Draft Lottery and the right to select Crosby at No. 1.
As a player, Lemieux had done something similar for the Penguins after they selected him at No. 1 in the 1984 NHL Draft. As co-owner of the Penguins, Lemieux has seen history repeat itself and more with Crosby, who has not only helped turn around what had been a struggling team and twice captained it to the Stanley Cup, but also reinvigorated and expanded the roots of the sport in the city and surrounding region.
Some of the breadth of Crosby’s impact will be on display this weekend during a celebration of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania hockey that centers around the 2017 Coors Light Stadium Series, with the Penguins facing the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2, NHL.TV).
It began Thursday with Crosby and some teammates joining a group of randomly selected youth playersfrom Sidney Crosby’s Little Penguins Learn to Play program for a practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township. On Sunday afternoon, two teams from the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite AAA youth program will play games against their counterparts from the Flyers Team Virtua at Heinz Field.
The Robert Morris University men’s hockey team, a Division I NCAA program housed at the Island Sports Center in Pittsburgh, will play Niagara University at Heinz Field on Sunday night.
It’s unlikely any of this could have happened without Crosby, which is why Penguins CEO and president David Morehouse said, “His off-ice legacy is just as impactful as his on-ice legacy, if not more.
“He’s had an impact on Pittsburgh in ways that you can’t even measure.”