Teammates call Crosby hockey's best player

Updated: December 15, 2006, 12:13 AM ET
Associated Press

Sidney Crosby
Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby seems almost embarrassed by all the praise.

A night after Crosby took over the NHL scoring lead with a six-point game, Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien called the 19-year-old star the best player in the NHL. And teammate Mark Recchi compared him to current and future Hall of Famers.

Yet, Crosby was decidedly modest after scoring a goal and adding five assists in the Penguins' 8-4 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

"That's up to other people to decide," Crosby said after practice Thursday. "Obviously my coach, he's probably on my side. But I don't put pressure on myself to be that guy. I want to be my best, and that's all I try to do."

Crosby, who became the youngest player ever to reach 100 points when he had 102 last season, has 15 goals and 32 assists this season for 47 points -- three ahead of Jaromir Jagr of the Rangers, who has played in four more games.

Wednesday night was just the latest in a string of strong efforts for Crosby, who has 15 points in his last six games. Crosby has a goal in six straight games and has 15 assists in his last 10 outings.

Statistically speaking, Crosby is making a case as the best player in hockey.

"There's no doubt in my mind," Therrien said. "There's a lot of good players in this league, but right now, the way that young man is playing on the ice and focusing and the way he concentrates, it's phenomenal. In my mind, he's the best player in the NHL right now."

Recchi is the Penguins' elder statesman at 38, and is currently playing on a line with Crosby. He was a rookie with Pittsburgh in 1988-89, when Hall of Fame forward -- and current Penguins owner -- Mario Lemieux was 23 and in his fifth season.

Crosby is currently living in Lemieux's house. Lemieux had at least 100 points in his first six seasons.

Drawing comparisons between the two is natural -- particularly in terms of vision and passing skills -- even if Lemieux was a much larger player.

Recchi even sounded as if he might believe Crosby could be an even better player than Lemieux, who won six scoring titles.

"Obviously, Sid is doing to the game what Mario did," Recchi said. "A lot of focus is going to him, and deservingly so. But the dynamic of them playing-wise is really different. ... Sid's in a world of his own."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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