Crosby wins Pearson Award as outstanding player in vote by players

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the presentation to the star Pittsburgh Penguins centre during the league’s annual awards ceremonies Thursday night.

It is a huge compliment to get the nod from his peers, said Crosby.

“To earn that respect from fellow players, guys you play against every night, it’s one of the ultimate complements you can get,” said Crosby. “In a way, it’s a family – the whole group of guys who battle for their teams.

“It’s a huge honour to get that respect.”

The 19-year-old native of Cole Harbour, N.S., is the youngest player to be a finalist for the Pearson and the youngest to win the coveted award. Wayne Gretzky won it as a 20-year-old in 1982.

With 120 points last season, Crosby was the youngest player to win the NHL scoring title and earned the Art Ross Trophy for that accomplishment.

Crosby has taken his physical knocks on the ice, and he’s kept going.

“Everybody has to earn respect, no matter the situation, and especially when you’re young,” he said. “I just try to do my best and carry myself in the best way.”

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He led the Penguins into the playoffs for the first time since 2001. They lost in the first round to Ottawa. That experience only whets his appetite and that of his teammates for more next season, he said.

Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo and Tampa Bay centre Vincent Lecavalier were the Pearson runners-up, and neither quibbled with the result.

“You always have to come back to a guy like Sidney being a 19-year-old,” said Lecavalier. “To do what he did was pretty incredible.”

Last year’s Pearson winner was Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers. The inaugural winner was Phil Esposito of the Boston Bruins in 1971.

The award was named after Canada’s 14th prime minister, who headed minority Liberal governments from April 1963 through April 1968.