Just look at the number on the back of his Pittsburgh Penguins sweater – 87 – as in $8.7 million a season beginning with 2008-2009. It was a nice touch in wrapping up the negotiations that led to the Tuesday announcement.
Meanwhile, the 19-year-old hockey superstar from Cole Harbour, N.S., will have to eke out an existence on the US$850,000 base salary he’ll get next season to complete his three-year, entry-level deal.
That stipend seems paltry in light of his new deal, which is much deserved given what he’s accomplished in just two years in the NHL.
In piling up 120 points, the smooth-skating centre became the youngest scoring champion in league history. In winning the Hart Trophy, he became the youngest MVP since Wayne Gretzky in 1980. Oh, he also was got the Pearson Award as most outstanding player in a poll of NHL Players’ Association members. The bonuses he cashed in on multiplied his base take by as much as four times.
Crosby turns 20 on Aug. 7. Next July 1, he’ll be handed a cheque for US$5 million as a signing bonus from the Penguins for putting his signature on the extension, thereby guaranteeing the franchise a glowing future.
“Sidney could have done a longer term, 10 years for that matter, but he’s only 19,” said agent Pat Brisson. “It’s only fair to him to go on a five-year extension at this stage of his career.
“Five years from now, his life might be different.”
For each of the first four seasons of the extension, Crosby will be paid $9 million, with the first year including a $5-million signing bonus. He’ll get $7.5 million in 2012-2013.
Brisson could have bled the Penguins for more, but he said he didn’t for a specific reason: Crosby didn’t want to leave GM Ray Shero without a few bucks to spread around.
The deal, though lucrative, was expected to give the Penguins some flexibility in signing other young stars Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal in the coming seasons.
“Sidney is all about winning,” said Brisson. “He could have signed for a million or so more a year, but he wants to help the team build a winner.
“By doing what he did, it’s another sign of his leadership. He’s giving the cook enough ingredients to bake a nice cake.”
Put on your apron, Ray.
“Sidney has proven himself to be a dynamic player and team leader at a very young age, and it is exciting news for our franchise and our fans to have him under contract for the next six seasons,” Shero said in a release on Tuesday. “When you’ve got a guy who leads the league in scoring and wins the MVP award at the age of 19, you know you have someone very special.”
Crosby was elated to get the extension out of the way.
“I really enjoy playing and living in Pittsburgh and I want to be here for a long time,” he said. “Individual honours and scoring championships are great, but my No. 1 goal is to win the Stanley Cup.
“I’d love to be a part of bringing the Cup back here to Pittsburgh.”
The NHL-NHLPA collective bargaining agreement stipulates that the total contract amount is to be averaged for annual inclusion under each team’s salary cap. Taking averaging into account, Crosby will be the highest-paid player in the NHL when his extension kicks in.
“Maybe (by 2013) Sidney can be wearing 15,” kidded Brisson, musing about Crosby’s annual pay down the line if he keeps performing at such a uniquely high level.
The deal goes through 2012-13. In agreeing to it, Crosby relinquished one year of unrestricted free agency.
Crosby is the youngest player in NHL history to record 100 and 200 career points. He was named captain of the Penguins last May, becoming the youngest team captain in NHL history.
Pittsburgh won 25 more games last season than they had a year earlier and finished with 47 more points. The Penguins were eliminated in the first playoff round by eventual Stanley Cup finalist Ottawa.
Crosby made his NHL debut in October 2005 after being the No. 1 entry draft selection. He scored 39 goals and assisted on 63 in his rookie season. Last season, he became the youngest player ever to win the Art Ross Trophy when he led the league in scoring with 36 goals and 84 assists.
The signing of the five-foot-11, 194-pound centre is the latest big-money deal that follows the recent increase in the league salary cap to just over $50 million from last season’s $44 million.
The New York Rangers will pay Scott Gomez $10 million next season after signing the unrestricted free agent and former New Jersey Devils forward to a $51.5-million, seven-year contract. The pact is loaded at the front end and the average is less than the $8.7 million that No. 87 will get, on average, when his new deal kicks in.
The Philadelphia Flyers signed free-agent Daniel Briere to a $52-million, eight-year contract. It’s also front-loaded and will pay Briere $10 million next season – while Crosby is still getting $850,000.
The Buffalo Sabres will pay Thomas Vanek $10 million next season after retaining the forward in a $50-million, seven-year pact that matched an offer sheet from the Edmonton Oilers.
Jaromir Jagr of the Rangers had a league-high salary of $8.36 million last season, and he’s under contract for the same amount for the next two years.
Tampa Bay’s Brad Richards got $7.8 million and Detroit’s Nick Lidstrom, former Islander Alexei Yashin and Toronto’s Mats Sundin each were paid $7.6 million last season. Boston’s Zdeno Chara and New Jersey’s Patrik Elias each got $7.5 million.