Some expect Crosby to elevate NHL in first Cup finals, but is that fair?
There is a sense that an enormous opportunity is at hand for the National Hockey League with this year's Stanley Cup finals.
Perhaps, just perhaps, it's the most significant chance for the NHL's Great Leap Forward since the New York Rangers snared the Stanley Cup in 1994, an opportunity squandered through a host of problems, including a deadly boring style of game, labor issues, reckless expansion and an inability to cement a major U.S. television presence.
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Sidney Crosby is making his first trip to the Stanley Cup finals. Here's a look back at how the Penguins star got there:
HERE AND NOW• Crosby on Mike and Mike: Crosby talks about the Pens' turnaround, advice he's received from teammates and how he and Mario Lemieux haven't spoken about the Cup finals. Listen
• 2008 playoffs: Crosby's first playoff trip was a short one. We tell you what to expect the second time around. Burnside
• The other side of Sid: Crosby is almost always measured in magnification and superlatives, in contracts and endorsements, and most recently, in injury. But how has he been able to balance pucks with life? Burnside
• Analysis: He's a whiner? He needs protection? Not this Kid. Cox
• Analysis: Crosby faced one of his toughest NHL hurdles after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Janury. Scott Burnside chronicled the pros and cons of the situation. Burnside
• Dec. 2007: Life in Western Canada was turned upside down during Crosby's inaugural visit. What did we learn? Well, those comparisons to Wayne Gretzky should stop. Johnson
• Oct. 2007: Crosby brought home a scoring title, MVP award and playoff berth at age 19. Now, we enter Season Three of the show. E.J. Hradek
• May 31, 2007: Crosby becoming a captain will not only change the rules, but it will also help the league bring more fans to the table. Frei
THE SECOND COMING• Is it fair to compare Crosby and Gretzky? Our experts weigh the past and present to see just how each player stacks up during their respective sophomore seasons. Launch
• Who has the better shot? Who's got bigger "D"? Scott Burnside ranks the second seasons of Ovechkin and Crosby. Burnside
THE DEBUT SEASON• Nov. 22, 2005: The first meeting between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin exceeded the hype and offered just a glimpse of what was to come. Burnside
• Oct. 8, 2005: Crosby scored his first career goal (and added two assists), but after Pittsburgh's 7-6 OT loss to Boston, the rookie phenom remained winless in the NHL. Story
• Oct. 5, 2005: Crosby's NHL debut wasn't the stuff of legends, but make no mistake, he played like he belonged. Burnside
• ESPN The Magazine: No rookie in the 2005-06 season received as much hype as Crosby. Eric Adelson told us why there was a clear reason for the hoopla. Story