PALM BEACH, Fla. – The more Steve Yzerman watches Sidney Crosby play, the more things he finds to like.
The Tampa Bay Lightning general manager believes Crosby has taken his game to another level this season for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“He’s a great example for all young players that here we have one of the best players in our game, a young guy just driven to get better in all areas,” Yzerman said Tuesday after the NHL’s board of governors meeting. “It’s so important because he can play in all situations and score the goal, set up the goal, he can win the faceoff, he’ll block a shot.
“How valuable is that?”
Crosby has been on a tear for the last month, putting up 18 goals and 33 points during a 16-game point streak. He’ll look to extend it when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old entered Tuesday with an eight-point lead in the scoring race over Lightning forward Steven Stamkos.
“He’s just getting better every year,” Yzerman said of Crosby. “He really works at every part of his game. You’ve just watched him develop in all aspects of the game whether it be his faceoff percentage, his shot—he’s scoring goals in different ways—he’s always been a goal-scorer, but he’s added a wrist shot coming down the wing, a one-timer on the power play …
“He’s just continually adding to it.”
On the eve of the Vancouver Olympics in February, Yzerman likened Crosby’s development to that of former basketball star Michael Jordan. The forward went on to score the winning goal in overtime of the gold-medal game for Team Canada, which was assembled by Yzerman.
Crosby is currently on pace for a career-best 68 goals and 136 points this season.
HBO cameras are currently embedded with the Penguins and Washington Capitals to record footage for the four-part “24/7” series. Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero believes viewers of that program will see a different side to Crosby, who often comes across as serious.
“He has a great sense of humour,” said Shero. “He’s a good kid. He’s good with his teammates.
“That’s his comfort level, right there in the locker-room with the guys, or on the road, on the plane, on the bus. He has a great personality and hopefully it does come out.”
The first episode of the show airs Dec. 15 on HBO Canada.
The series has already generated plenty of buzz around the league—even among the owners who were shown a 12-minute trailer during the board of governors meetings.
“The governors gave it an ovation,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “They started clapping when it was over. … This is truly special (access). This is perhaps unprecedented, particularly in the regular season, for any sport.
“People were extraordinarily pleased with the trailer and from what we hear the trailer isn’t anywhere as good as the real show will be.”