Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is no different than the likes of Tom Brady, Bryce Harper and LeBron James. Even if he's the best player in his league, it doesn't buy love from all of his peers. Crosby is obviously one of the most beloved players in NHL history, but being the greatest of your time means making a lot of enemies.
That's just natural. People who want to be you easily get jealous and try to pick on you. That's happened to Crosby, and it's made him a lot of enemies. On the flip side, Crosby has developed some great relationships with some of his Penguin teammates plus other great players in the NHL.
Because he's the best of the best, Crosby has been the target of many cheap shots from opposing players. But because he's the best, he's also made some of his linemates superstars. Here is a look at eight players Sidney Crosby loves, and seven players he (probably) hates.
*Stats courtesy of ESPN.com*
15 Love: Conor Sheary
Crosby has made plenty of his linemates look great (duh), but man do he and undrafted winger Conor Sheary make quite a pairing. Sheary broke out in 2016-17 with 23 goals and 53 points -- thanks solely to playing with Crosby. Sheary was also a key contributor to the Penguins' Stanley Cup run in 2016, scoring 10 points in 23 games.
Sheary helped Crosby get right back into the game after the latter missed the beginning of 2016-17. The two have developed phenomenal chemistry together and currently have the Pens in great position to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
Any time a player helps another look great, they're going to have a great relationship. Crosby and Sheary have been one of hockey's best scoring duos, and you can't try to tell us Crosby hates his own linemate!
14 Hate: Zdeno Chara
The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins had a fairly heated rivalry from 2009 to 2014, when they were both among the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The most heated moment of this rivalry came when the two squads faced off in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final.
The high-scoring Penguins were completely shut down by Boston, who used their superior size and physicality to drain Sidney Crosby and co. The Pens were held to just two goals and were swept in four games.
Zdeno Chara, the Bruins captain, was able to exhaust and bully Crosby. The two even got into an extremely heated exchange here once upon a time:
Two star captains standing in the middle of a rivalry. Let's just go ahead and assume there's no love lost between these future Hall of Famers.
13 Love: Marc-Andre Fleury
When a great team features the best scorer in the league plus an elite goalie, they sure as heck better like each other. But Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury have a much tighter relationships than most NHL players to with their goalies. They've been together since the 2005-06 season (when Crosby was a rookie).
In fact, Fleury's current goalie mask has multiple Penguins on it -- including that of 'Sid the Kid'. And how serious does Fleury take the health of Crosby? Here's what he did after former teammate Matt Niskanen concussed Crosby during this year's playoffs:
Fleury and Crosby were backbones of the Penguins' 2009 and 2016 Stanley Cup championships together. They also played for Team Canada at the 2004 World Juniors, so their close relationship dates way back.
There's plenty of love to go around between these two Penguin stars.
12 Hate: David Krejci
Chara isn't the only Boston Bruin to have some beef with Sidney Crosby. Here is David Krejci, who has an overlooked history with the Penguins star. It goes back to a December, 2011 game between Boston and Pittsburgh.
Just a short couple of weeks after returning from a concussion that kept him out for 10 months, Crosby was elbowed in the head by Krejci and suffered another concussion (though it's not known for sure if the elbow did cause the concussion). Crosby wouldn't return for another three months.
Krejci got to deliver another dagger to Crosby and the Penguins, scoring four points in Boston's 2013 ECF sweep of Pittsburgh. Though Crosby has remained silent on calling out Krejci throughout his career, we have to think he's not going to buy him a drink if they run into each other at the bar.
11 Love: Chris Kunitz
Chris Kunitz is one of the greatest undrafted players in NHL history, and though he was a 20-goal scorer during his days with the Anaheim Ducks, playing with Sidney Crosby changed his career for the better.
For example, in a lockout-shortened 48-game 2012-13 season, Kunitz scored 22 goals and 52 points. He followed that up with a career year, scoring 35 goals and 68 points. Kunitz was named to Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, helping his country win gold. In fact, both Crosby and Kunitz scored in the gold medal game against Sweden.
Kunitz also scored 17 goals in both 2014-15 and 2015-16 -- which isn't bad at all for a guy in his mid-30's. Phil Kessel may be Crosby's best linemate, but Kunitz won two Cups and Olympic gold with Crosby. There is undoubtedly a great relationship between these two.
10 Hate: Matt Niskanen
Matt Niskanen was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011 and remained there until 2014, when he chose to ditch Crosby and co. by signing with the arch rival Washington Capitals. Niskanen spurned Pittsburgh for their biggest rivals, so you have to think Crosby may hold some hard feelings towards Niskanen.
But Game 3 of the 2017 playoffs is where Crosby's view on Niskanen completely had to change. During this game, Crosby took a stick to his upper body before Niskanen dished out a somewhat dirty hit on No .87, causing him to have yet another concussion.
Thankfully, Crosby missed very little time and helped the Penguins win the series. But the fact Niskanen gave a dirty hit towards Crosby while he was defenseless means that the former is no longer on Sid's friends list. But rather, his enemies list.
9 Love: Auston Matthews
Auston Matthews and Sidney Crosby have very similar tales to tell. They are both former first-overall picks who had high pressure in making their new team great -- after years of being among the NHL's worst teams.
Well, Crosby turned the Penguins into a force quickly, while Matthews led his Toronto Maple Leafs to the playoffs in his first NHL season. Before the teams met late in the regular season, Crosby offered extremely high praise for Matthews, according to Kristen Shilton from TSN:
“I think the biggest thing that stands out is how he complete he is. That’s what I noticed from just watching him play. Just that maturity...His game is just so well-rounded....You can tell he’s really raised his game here down the stretch when the games have been important. He’s really embraced everything here."
That's extremely high praise from the NHL's best player of this generation. We're sure Matthews took those kind words to heart, and it's going to be exciting to see these stars duke it out for years to come. I'm pretty sure they're going to be friends on and off the ice.
8 Hate: Claude Giroux
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers form the Battle of Pennsylvania -- one of the most heated rivalries in all of hockey. It's an unwritten rule that the captain of each team basically has to dislike the other.
But the thing is, Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux really do not like each other one bit. Crosby and Giroux got into a huge brawl during the opening round of the 2012 playoffs -- a series that the Flyers took in six games:
And according to Luke Fox from Sportsnet, Giroux blamed a series of wrist injuries on Sidney Crosby. Giroux needed surgery on both of his wrists that offseason, so there's that. Also, Giroux has accused Crosby of cheating in faceoffs before as well. So there's also that.
With all this fighting and trashtalking between the two, it's safe to guess that Crosby's no fan of Claude Giroux, right?
7 Love: Jonathan Toews
You may not quite think that Crosby and Jonathan Toews should be friends, since they are battling hard every year to accomplish more than the other. Toews has three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, while Crosby has two with the Penguins. Each has a Conn Smythe Trophy to their name, but Sid the Kid has multiple Harts and Art Ross Trophies -- awards that Toews has never won.
But Crosby and Toews were instrumental in helping Team Canada win the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. In fact, each of them scored a goal in both gold medal games. Toews and Crosby also helped Canada win the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Their international successes can be contributed to the other. And according to ESPN's Craig Custance, Crosby didn't accept the captaincy for Canada in 2014 without Toews' approval. There's no denying the tremendous amount of respect these two have for each other.
6 Hate: David Steckel
David Steckel wasn't exactly a superstar during his time in the NHL. He played in just 425 games and scored 33 goals and 79 points, but the fact he played on the Washington Capitals for five years wasn't a good starting point in his "relationship" with Crosby. But Steckel made himself one of the most hated people in all of Pittsburgh during the 2011 Winter Classic.
In that game, Steckel hit Sidney Crosby in the head with his shoulder, which caused the latter to experience concussion symptoms. Crosby received another hit from Victor Hedman shortly after, and he would miss the remainder of the season. He wouldn't return until November of 2011-12, but Crosby suffered that concussion from David Krejci and missed three-quarters of the season.
If it weren't for Steckel's hit, then Crosby probably wouldn't be dealing with all these concussion problems for the past six years. Crosby may downplay it, but you have to think he's not high on Steckel these days.
5 Love: Phil Kessel
The Penguins were coming off a first-round elimination at the hands of the New York Rangers in the 2015 playoffs. General manager Jim Rutherford was determined to find Crosby a new linemate, so he made a blockbuster trade for sniper Phil Kessel. Nearly two years later, Crosby and Kessel have won a Stanley Cup together and are once again in the Eastern Conference Final.
It's not just their play on the ice that makes Crosby love Kessel; he's just always admired the guy. Before they started their time in Pittsburgh together, Crosby denied any beliefs that Kessel had "character issues". (per The Globe and Mail). Also, Per the Toronto Sun, Crosby also said that Kessel "brings a lot of laughs".
Yeah, it's safe to say these two stars get along just fine.
4 Hate: Alex Ovechkin
Crosby and Alex Ovechkin haven't fought and they haven't spent any time calling the other out. But their rivalry began once the Penguins announced that they selected Crosby with the top pick in 2005. This came a year after Washington took Ovechkin with the first selection.
Both entered the 2005-06 season as rookies with sky-high expectations. They each hit the 100-point mark, but Ovechkin stole the Calder Trophy. These two have since battled for the label as the top player of their generation.
Well, Ovechkin has three Hart Trophies against Crosby's two. Crosby has two scoring titles against Ovechkin's one. Ovechkin has six 'Rocket Richard' Trophies over Crosby's two. But Crosby also has two Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup of Hockey title. Ovechkin has none of those.
Naturally, these two have a rivalry. It's like that of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady's; the nature of the competition makes them rivals -- even if they get along in real life.
3 Love: Jarome Iginla
The only sound needed to describe the relationship of Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla. In case you forgot, here's what happened...
Canada was facing USA in the gold medal game during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Canada simply had to win it all on their home soil, and there was zero excuse for failure.
This matchup went into overtime, and head coach Mike Babcock made the legendary decision to put Iginla and Crosby out together during the extra frame. Now, try to listen closely at the 0:06 mark:
Crosby cemented himself as Canada's 2010 hero by scoring the "golden goal". Iginla had the puck, heard his name and fed the puck to Crosby to win gold for his nation. Oh, and these two spent a brief period together during the 2012-13 season when Calgary traded Iginla to Pittsburgh.
A decent relationship between these two, may I presume?
2 Hate: Brandon Dubinsky
Thanks to the NHL putting the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets together in the Metropolitan Division, Brandon Dubinsky will continue to be Sidney Crosby's biggest rival. These two already went at it enough while Dubinsky was with the New York Rangers, and the history hasn't gone away since the former's trade to Columbus.
Crosby and the Penguins dispatched Dubinsky's Blue Jackets during the opening round of the 2014 and 2017 playoffs, which added fuel to the fire. During a 2015 regular season game between the two teams, Dubinsky cross-checked Crosby in the neck.
Per Sportsnet, Crosby said he wasn't "surprised", knowing if he was "to get one of those shots, it would probably be from "Dubinsky". And oh, these two got into a hockey fight at one point, too.
Crosby and Dubinsky have both made it clear that they don't like the other. It was so easy putting Dubinsky fist on our list.
1 Love: Evgeni Malkin
For all the accomplishments Sidney Crosby has done, he knows that his career wouldn't be where it is today without 'Geno.' Evgeni Malkin, the second pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, has been just as crucial to the Penguins success. Malkin won both the Hart and Art Ross Trophy in 2012 while Crosby missed most of the season due to a concussion.
Neither would have a Stanley Cup ring right now without the other. Malkin is to Crosby what Scottie Pippen was to Michael Jordan, what Lou Gehrig was to Babe Ruth, and what Jerry Rice was to Joe Montana.
The two have had a great working relationship and have been incredible team players all this time. Crosby and Malkin will surely be friends for life after all they've done together in Pittsburgh.