"This is a tough one. Getting this close and not winning the cup...I never wanna be in this photograph again"
These are sombre words uttered by No. 87 in a commercial launched by the NHL for a new marketing campaign to start the 2008-09 season.
In the spot, Crosby comes to life out of a still photograph taken after the crushing defeat to the Detroit Red Wings in last year's Stanley Cup final.
Now, with Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Final on the horizon, Crosby has the opportunity to turn his bold statement into a reality.
With a hockey resume that already boasts an impressive list of accomplishments, it's as if Crosby just does not know how to fail. In Juniors, his trophy case included a CHL Top Scorer, Top Player and Top Rookie of the Year, a World Junior Gold Medal and a Quebec Major Junior Championship.
Then in 2005, after returning from World Junior Glory, he set his sights squarely on the Holy Grail of Canadian Junior Hockey—the Memorial Cup. But, fate would deal Crosby a cruel hand, as his one shot at Memorial Cup glory would be in the same year as the explosive and incomporable London Knights.
The depth of the Knights, led by coach Dale Hunter, was just too much, and they shut down the Explosive Rimouski team for over five periods of hockey over two games en route to the Championship. For the first time, No. 87 was left empty handed knowing he would not get another shot at this coveted prize.
Then upon his arrival in the NHL, the winning continued with a 100-point rookie season, being named to the NHL All-Star Team, the Hart, Art Ross, Lester B. Pearson, and being named Team Captain of the Penguins. Even more impressive is that at the ripe old age of 21, Crosby is the youngest player in NHL history to achieve all of these honors.
For most, this would be a careers worth of accomplishments, but not for Crosby. People knew it was a matter of time before the Penguins took flight, and in 2008—ahead of schedule—they escalated their game to new heights, blazing through the playoffs to capture the Eastern Conference for a date with the ever dangerous Detroit Red Wings.
But, just as the Knights did in the Memorial Cup, the Wings had the answer for Crosby and his teammates, effectively shutting them down in six games to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup in front of the Penguins and their home crowd.
Fast forward to today. Exactly one year and one week after the "infamous" photograph. No. 87 with his supporting cast of impressive talent have again led a March of the Penguins through the Eastern Conference to force a sudden-death Game Seven against the incomparable Red Wings team.
But unlike the Memorial Cup that eluded him, Crosby has a second chance at Lord Stanley with his team one year older, one year stronger, one year wiser, and one game farther than last year. Will it be enough to accomplish the mission of fulfilling the childhood dream of Crosby and many of his Penguin teammates,? Or will they come up short again yet again and be subject to the nightmare of being "that close."
In the end, Crosby's ultimate hockey legacy may indeed rest on this one game.