In seven NHL seasons, Crosby has about six full seasons of games played because of injuries. If he retired today, his lack of longevity would be an issue, but there a number of reasons why he would be a solid candidate for the Hall of Fame.
Let's examine why the Penguins star would be a Hall of Famer if his career ended today.
Stats, Making Teammates Better
Crosby is a once-in-a-generation talent. The way he plays the game is as close to Wayne Gretzky as we have seen. He is always thinking one or two steps ahead of his opponents, and it's easy to see this when you watch him play.
He knows where his teammates are going to be on the ice, and his offensive awareness and vision on the ice is better than most players who have ever played the game.
Just like Gretzky, Crosby takes his teammates' level of performance to a new level. His play-making skills are just unreal, and very few players can control the flow and pace of the game like Crosby. He already has 386 assists in 434 career games, which puts him fourth all time with a .889 assists-per- game average. His career points-per-game average is 1.403, which is fourth best all time.
When you look at the stats he's compiled and the awards he's won at just 25 years old, few players in the history of the game can compare at that age.
Complete List of Awards
- Stanley Cup
- Hart Trophy
- Rocket Richard Trophy
- Art Ross Trophy
- Lester B. Pearson Award
- Mark Messier Leadership Award (2 Times)
- NHL All-Rookie Team
- NHL First Team All-Star
- All-Star Game (Voted four times)
Crosby has enjoyed remarkable success in the playoffs throughout his brief NHL career. He has scored 90 points (33 goals, 57 assists) in 68 games for a 1.32 points/game average. That average is good for fourth all-time.
He has led the Penguins to two Stanley Cup Final appearances, winning one championship. In the title-winning season of 2008-09, he scored 15 goals and 16 assists in 24 postseason games.
One of the most impressive parts of many Hall of Fame resumes is playoff success, and Crosby certainly has stepped up his game when his team has needed it most.
Cam Neely Comparison
Whenever people are debating the question of whether or not a player is worthy of the Hall of Fame when he doesn't have a lot of longevity, former Boston Bruins forward Cam Neely is often used as a comparison.
Neely was a dominant player for many years in Boston, just like Crosby has been for Pittsburgh. However, a number of difficult injuries forced Neely to play in only 162 games in his last five NHL seasons.
In his 13-year career, Neely played in 726 games, or about 55 games per season. Crosby has played in 433 games during his seven-year career, which is 62 games per season. Pat LaFontaine, who is also in the Hall of Fame, played in just 57 games per season during his 15-year career.
Neely was inducted into the Hall in 2005, and even though Crosby has played in six less seasons, he's only 85 career points behind the Bruins legend.
If the voters put Neely in, then you have to put Crosby in too because the Penguins star has a similar number of points, more assists and more playoff success.
NHL performance isn't the only part of a player's resume that is examined by voters when they determine the new Hall of Fame class each year. International success plays a part too.
Crosby was a point-per-game player for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where his overtime goal in the gold-medal game helped Canada defeat the United States to become Olympic champions.
He also won the 2006 World Junior Championships with Canada, scoring 16 points in nine games.
Crosby's spectacular international resume is just one more reason why he is worthy of the Hall of Fame. No matter what kind of environment he's playing in, NHL or international, Crosby always performs at an elite level.
Impact on the Sport
Would the NHL have grown at the rate it did post-lockout if Crosby didn't live up to the hype as the game's next great player? Probably not.
Him and Alexander Ovechkin were two players that the league marketed quite a bit following the lockout, and each player has helped the sport recover tremendously from one of its darkest times.
Hall of Fame Worthy
You cannot use lack of longevity as a reason why Crosby wouldn't be worthy for the Hall of Fame if he retired today. Anyone can put up great stats if they play long enough. It's about how good you played during your career.
Crosby has never had a poor season, and his success in playoff/gold-medal games is fantastic. His all-around offensive ability has been seen in maybe four or five other players over the history of the sport.
He's won pretty much everything there is to win as a hockey player, whether it's a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal or a Hart Trophy.
When you combine the success of his playing career with what he has meant to the sport, there's no question that Sidney Crosby would be a Hall of Famer if he retired today.