Although Sidney Crosby has only played 63 games over the past two seasons, many still consider him the face of the NHL, and even more people aren't afraid to admit that he is undoubtedly the best player in the world.
In 2013, the Penguins will have the advantage of having a healthy Crosby as well as having Evgeni Malkin, who is returning from his MVP season.
There are far more memorable moments to be had, but ever since Sid the Kid touched the ice as a part of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005, he started cementing a legacy. Here are his top 10 moments so far.
Sorry Canadians, but these are his top moments with the Pens, so his goal where he buried America in the Olympics wasn't included.
It took Crosby just under eight periods in his first NHL season to bury the first goal of his career. His garbage goal to put the Pens up 6-4 late in the second period against the Boston Bruins paved the way for a 102-point rookie season.
Crosby has always been a guy that plays until the final buzzer rings, so when the puck wrapped around the wall and he saw a 2-on-1 opportunity, he didn't hesitate. This head-first, diving goal against Tampa is a beauty.
Two things stick out about this play. First off, it's a tie game, and with under five minutes to play, big players show up at big times. Secondly, Crosby burns Jason Spezza, who is no slouch. As a matter of fact, he is one of the premiere players in the NHL.
One of Crosby's prettiest helpers in his young career.
In Sid's sophomore season, he put up 36 goals and 84 assists in 79 games. He had established himself as the best player in the NHL, and he was definitely awarded for it.
In 2007, he won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer, Hart Memorial Trophy as League MVP and the Lester B. Pearson Award as NHL's best player voted on by the NHLPA.
He was also the Sporting News NHL Player of the Year.
Crosby went two full seasons without engaging in a fight, but in December of his third season, he ended up scrapping with Andrew Ference of the Boston Bruins. It was good to see Sid show his toughness when he dropped the mits and actually got the better of Ference in this fight.
After missing almost a year of hockey, Crosby returned on November 21st, 2011, and it took just under six minutes for him to light the lamp against the Islanders.
He showed his speed as he beat everyone wide and then flipped a back hand top shelf where the peanut butter is. This sweet sight, however, would eventually turn into sorrow, as Crosby would only play 22 regular season games in 2011-12.
Sidney Crosby's rookie season was also the first year the NHL implemented the shootout to decide games that were still tied after a five minute overtime. Crosby watched the Canadiens growing up, and it was only right that he would score one of the prettiest shootout goals of the year the first time he ever faced them to win it.
The leg kick, backhand, forehand, backhand, right in the shelf and pop the bottle. A thing of beauty.
Skip to 2:35 for the goal.
The Penguins went nearly a year and a half without a captain after Mario Lemieux retired in January 2006, but in May of 2007, Crosby was named the steel city's captain. He was just 19 years, 297 days old, and at the time was the youngest captain in NHL history, a title that now belongs to Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche.
This was a huge moment for Sid, because it was the final motion from the front office, the coaches and his teammates that they had faith in him to lead the organization for years to come.
When the idea of the Winter Classic was outlined, it sounded like an amazing thing, but no one knew how it would all come together. The first ever Winter Classic was between the Pens and the Buffalo Sabres, and, rightfully so, it went into a shootout.
It had been snowing all day, and NHL players are used to clean ice for the shootout where the Zamboni clears the center of the ice, but not for this game. Sid pushed the puck through about an inch of snow and slid it five hole to beat Ryan Miller and to win the first ever Winter Classic.
This was huge, because it kicked off the success of what would become a New Year's Day staple for the NHL. A huge fallout of this year's lockout was that the Winter Classic, scheduled to be between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, was cancelled.
As a Penguins fan, there wasn't a sweeter moment. He wasn't the hero of game 7 (Maxim Talbot took over that role, and Evgeni Malkin won the Conn Smythe Trophy), but Crosby was the player who led them there the whole way.
People don't cut Crosby slack for sitting out the third period of the final game, but his injury was severe enough that it would have kept anyone off the ice. He knew he was only hurting his team if he played on it, and that's what a true captain does—they put the team first.
I had the privilege of being at this game, and it was one of the greatest sights ever to watch Crosby take the Cup and become the youngest captain ever to hoist it for the first Stanley Cup victory for Pittsburgh since 1992.