Sidney Crosby is among the best hockey players to play in the NHL. He has been in the league for 12 years and was the first overall pick of the 2005 NHL entry. There is a reason why he gets paid nearly $11 million dollars a season, because he is one of the greatest of all-time. He has stayed loyal to the Pittsburgh Penguins and has added two Stanley Cups to the franchise's collection.
Despite the Crosby haters, he has created a ongoing legacy for himself. His dynamic skills as a center has created a spot on the NHL All-Star team every year besides his 2011-2012 season. On top of that, he has numerous awards and accolades that he has obtained over his career that he has earned by overcoming certain challenges. Crosby is one of the most decorated NHL players to play the sport and is only 29-years-old.
Since Crosby has been only on the Penguins his whole career, he had to deal with playing alongside various teammates. Some were helpful and capable of making plays, others didn't fit well on the team. Regardless, Crosby has still helped carry the Penguins through countless wins with the assistance of his team.
Here are eight best and seven worst players Sidney Crosby played with.
15 BEST: Mark Recchi
Recchi is currently the Pittsburgh Penguins’ player development coach. He played with Crosby when he was claimed by the Penguins in the 2005-2006 NHL entry. Recchi was the reliable right-wing that Crosby could always count on while he was on the Penguins. Recchi and Crosby played on the Penguins together from the 2005-2006 season until the 2007-2008 season.
The first two season Recchi and Crosby played together, Recchi was getting over 20 goals per season and was surpassing 30 assists as well. It wasn’t until Recchi’s third season playing with Crosby where his stats started to decline significantly. During the 2007-2008 season, Crosby and the Penguins made it all the way to the Stanley Cup against the Detroit Red Wings. They couldn’t withstand the Red Wings offensive power and lost the series 4-2.
Recchi went on to play for various teams after he left the Penguins and eventually retired when he was 43-years-old in 2011. He retired right after his team, the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup by defeating the Vancouver Canucks.
14 WORST: Erik Christensen
This Canadian center was picked up in the third-round of the 2002 NHL entry. He played for a couple hockey teams in Western Hockey League prior to officially being on the Penguins lineup. Christensen was given ice time the same year Crosby was acquired. The first season on the Penguins, Christensen made under 10 goals and assists.
The Penguins might have thought that Christensen was a top prospect at the time of the draft, but their optimistic outlook started to dwindle after his first-year performance. He had a decent second year, almost breaking the 20 goal threshold. However, that wasn’t enough to convince the Penguins to keep him on board. Christensen, Colby Armstrong, Angelo Esposito and the Penguins’ 2008 first-round pick were traded to the Atlanta Thrashers. The Penguins got in exchange, Pascal Dupuis and Marian Hossa. Christensen went on to never get over 20 goals in a regular season, the Penguins got the better part of that 2008 deal with the Thrashers.
13 BEST: Sergei Gonchar
Gonchar played alongside Crosby for five seasons on the Pittsburgh Penguins. During those five seasons, he made the All-Star team twice for his commendable defensive skills. Gonchar also won the James Norris Memorial trophy twice and the Hart Memorial trophy during his time on the Penguins. The Norris trophy is awarded to the top defensive player in the league and the Hart trophy is given to the player who is deemed most valuable to the team.
Crosby was reluctant to have such a crucial defensive player on his side that also contributed a plethora of goals and assists over his career on the Penguins. According to an ESPN interview, Maxime Talbot revealed what an essential player Gonchar was for the whole team. Talbot explained, “What a leader. We looked at him. He sits right across from me and Sid in the dressing room. And you look at him, and he's just so calm, he's just so relaxed and so poised. You look in his eyes and you know he's ready.”
12 WORST: Konstantin Koltsov
Koltsov was drafted in the first-round of the 1999 NHL entry, but never really became the player the Penguins thought he would evolve to. He is a right-wing that was from Minsk, Russia and only played three seasons on the Penguins.
His first season on the Penguins he only played two games and contributed four shots, all of which weren’t goals. Despite having 26 minutes on the ice his first year in the league, roughly 13 minutes each game, he couldn’t seem to impress anybody.
The only mediocre season he had was in 2003-2004, when he got nine goals and 20 assists. However, it took him 123 shots on the goal to get those nine goals. Needless to say, after that season he got less time on the ice and his performance never met the Penguins expectations. The Penguins got rid of him after his 2005-2006 season on the team, the first season Crosby was on the team.
11 BEST: Petr Sykora
He only played on the Pittsburgh Penguins for two seasons, but was an essential player while on the team. He obtained over 24 goals each season he was on the Penguins and never got under 20 assists during his time there. A temporary valuable asset to the Penguins, without a doubt.
Sykora assisted Crosby and the Penguins by helping them make it to the 2007-2008 Stanley Cup finals against the Detroit Red Wings. They didn’t win the Stanley Cup that season, but the Penguins prevailed in the Stanley Cup rematch the following season.
Over the course of his career, he made to the All-Star team twice. Sykora has also won the Lady Byng trophy four times, the Frank J. Selke two times and Calder Memorial once.
10 WORST: Beau Bennett
Bennett was an utter disappointment of a pick-up for the Penguins, especially because they wasted a first-round draft pick to acquire him. They ended up drafting him 20th overall in the 2010 NHL entry. Bennett was suppose to be their next big right-wing after he impressed them with his college hockey skills. However, just because you play well in college doesn’t automatically mean you will be successful in the professional league. He was on the Penguins when they won the Stanley Cup, but hardly contributed towards their accomplishment.
Bennett was an unfortunate pick-up by the Penguins, he never got over five goals his first three seasons on the team. After 344 shots on the net, Bennett only made 16 of them goals. Between his lacking skills and frequently getting injured, the Penguins traded him after the 2015-2016 season. The Penguins got a third-round pick for the 2016 NHL entry draft in exchange for trading Bennett to the New Jersey Devils.
9 BEST: Pascal Dupuis
It wasn’t until Dupuis’ 2007-2008 season that he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins from the Atlanta Thrashers. He also played on various teams prior to joining the Penguins. Dupuis was a veteran left-wing that always held his weight on the team and contributed many points for the Penguins. He retired after his 2015-2016 season due to having a medical condition related to blood clots.
Dupuis was injury-prone throughout his career on the Penguins, but that didn’t stop him from playing for the team for as long as he could. Crosby told the Penguins website, “It’s definitely a difficult situation. Most guys wouldn’t have been able to even come back after what he went through the last couple of years. But it’s something he needs to do at this point in his life. He has a family and he has to look out for himself. But we’re going to miss him a lot. He’s a great guy, great teammate. I know he’ll have a hard time staying away from the rink, so hopefully we’ll see lots of him.”
8 WORST: Phil Kessel
Kessel can arguably be among the best players that Crosby played with. However, he started playing for the Penguins during their 2015-2016 season. He didn’t exactly have the greatest first season on the team, only getting 26 goals. He was expected to get 40 goals with the help of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but the chemistry wasn’t there.
Kessel always puts up a large amount of goals each season and is the same age as Crosby. Although, he hasn’t obtained 30 plus goals since his 2013-2014 season. Many fans seem to despise Kessel for the way he represented his previous team during their media interviews. According to SportsNet, “In 2015, he went through a public phase of being labeled ‘uncoachable’ by some after Randy Carlyle was fired.” Whether or not the rumors are true, many fans think the Penguins should trade Kessel for a more suitable player that works well with their roster.
7 BEST: Chris Kunitz
He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins during his 2008-2009 season. Kunitz and Crosby have a unique chemistry together. Not just because they’re both Canadian. They developed a strong bond and can make big plays when needed.
During an interview with NHL.com Kunitz mentioned, “Sid is the biggest part of that, of our success, and I think we know that and accept that and just try to play our roles. We don't try to change what we're going to do. We just try to be as consistent as we can to play with him.” One of the reasons why Crosby is lucky to have him as a teammate.
The Penguins went on to make playoff appearances numerous times after that interview in 2013. It wasn’t until the 2015-2016 season that Kunitz and Crosby could celebrate their second Stanley Cup victory together. They outplayed the San Jose Sharks and beat them in the series 4-2.
6 WORST: Ryan Malone
Malone joined the Pittsburgh Penguins during their 2003-2004 season. He played for them until 2007-2008 and was traded with Gary Roberts to the Tampa Bay Lightning for their fourth-round draft pick. During Malone’s time on the ice with Crosby he had a decrease in his scoring rate. Malone was inconsistent with his performance each season on the Penguins. Maybe, it was because he played with Crosby and Malkin.
Not every player works out with the lineup and it seemed like that was the case for Malone. The Penguins traded him at the perfect time, because he was struggling with injuries since his departure from Pittsburgh. Not only that, but he was busted in 2014 for a DUI and having 1.3 grams of cocaine in his possession. Crosby had to deal with Malone on the team for four seasons. During Malone’s last season on the team, they came close to winning the Stanley Cup, but lost to the Detroit Red Wings.
5 BEST: Jordan Staal
Staal was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first-round of the 2006 NHL entry. He flourished as a center on the team and was a solid temporary fit. Staal did extremely well for his first year on the Penguins, scoring 29 goals and getting 13 assists. Throughout the rest of his time on the Penguins he did pretty well, besides his 2007-2008 and 2010-2011 seasons.
Crosby and Staal were such good buddies, Crosby even attended his wedding. Staal had the option of signing an 11 season contract extension with the Penguins, but reconsidered.
After the 2011-2012 season, Staal was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for their 8th overall pick, Brian Dumolin and Brandon Sutter. Over the course of being on the Penguins, Staal helped the Penguins to two Stanley Cup Finals. Crosby and the other Penguin teammates won the Stanley Cup in 2009 thanks to Staal. He made a goal in Game 4 and 6 during the 2009 Stanley Cup series.
4 WORST: Shane Endicott
Endicott was yet another failed prospect that the Pittsburgh Penguins picked up during the NHL entry. He was obtained at the 2000 NHL entry, the Penguins got him in the second-round. Endicott never amounted to anything substantial, he had very minimal ice time while on the team. He played on the Penguins for two seasons, their 2001-2002 season and their 2005-2006 season.
He wasn’t a stand-out player by any means, he was just a giant disappointment. Endicott managed to get an amazing one goal during his whole time on the the Penguins. Crosby certainly won’t miss this player for his lack of contribution to the team. Combining the ice time he had during both seasons, Endicott had 20 minutes on the rink to prove himself. Lacking the skills required by the Penguins, they bought him out of his contract. He had one year left on the Penguins before they decided, no thanks, we’re better off without you.
3 BEST: James Neal
Neal was an excellent pick-up for the Penguins during their 2010-2011 season. He is great at playing left-wing and was obtained in hopes of being another big-scorer on the Penguins. I believe he lived up to his expectations and more by being a key playmaker. Neal was in beast-mode for his first season on the Penguins, scoring a whopping 40 goals. That isn’t all, Neal also had 41 assists! He knew how to deliver the puck with precision and had excellent chemistry with his teammates.
Crosby and Neal are friends, both are the same age and meshed well together while they played together in Pittsburgh. According to TribLive, Crosby mentioned Neal during a 2014 interview, “We spent a lot of time together. Like any teammate, it’s not easy to see someone get traded. We were similar age, spent time together.”
Neal was traded to the Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling after the Penguins 2013-2014 season.
2 WORST: Sebastien Caron
He was not a top draft prospect, but instead was acquired during the third-round of the 1999 NHL entry. Caron was in and out of the American Hockey League throughout his professional hockey career, which is why he wasn’t officially on the Penguins’ NHL roster until 2002-2003 season. He played back-up goalie and was mediocre at best. Despite him being a pretty good goalie during his two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Caron played on the Penguins for three seasons. He also was on the team for their 2003-2004 season and 2005-2006 season. It was a dark time for the Penguins when Caron was on the team, they placed fifth place in the NHL Atlantic division every season he was on the team. He was no help to the Penguins, he served his three year contract on the team and was let go.
1 BEST: Evgeni Malkin
He has been on the Pittsburgh Penguins with Crosby since the 2006-2007 season. He is one of the best centers in the league and was drafted by the Penguins in the first-round of the 2004 NHL entry. In 2009, Malkin won the Conn Smythe trophy, which is given to the most valuable player during the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup as well, after beating the Detroit Red Wings.
Truly a beast center on the ice, he has always gotten over 20 assists each season and exceeded 300 career goals during the 2016-2017 season. Him and Crosby are a duo that many NHL teams fear to go up against. Malkin has made the All-Star team five times over the course of his career and has appeared three times on the Russian Olympic hockey team. Malkin has also won numerous other most valuable player awards during his first six seasons on the Penguins.