Penguins fans are spoiled when you really think about it. While there were some dark years in the ‘Burgh, (Rico Fata and Ramzi Abid anyone?), for the better part of 30 years, the fans have been treated to some of the best talent on the ice. Since The Magnificent one Mario Lemieux debuted for the Penguins in October of 1984, the talent kept coming on the ice in Pittsburgh. Ron Francis, Kevin Stevens, Larry Murphy, Joe Mullen, Rick Kehoe, Tom Barrasso and more have all earned the right to be called some of the best Penguins of all-time.
Then came the new wave of players such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin that brought the Penguins back to the top of the league. Some may even call Pittsburgh the, umm, “hockey mecca.” While Crosby is the top player in all of hockey – if you feel different then hand in your hockey card – he isn’t in the top two in Penguins history.
At least not yet.
While there’s no question that Lemieux is the best player to ever lace up the skates in Pittsburgh – perhaps the entire league – Crosby still has another Pittsburgh legend to pass before he can call himself the second best. Despite the falling out he had in his exit from Pittsburgh and the saga that was #JagrWatch last year, Jaromir Jagr still holds that spot.
In between the Lemieux eras in Pittsburgh, Jagr was responsible for keeping the team alive. Jagr is arguably the strongest skater to ever put on a pair of skates in the NHL. While Crosby is a better skater and a strong one in his own right, it doesn’t compare to what Jagr was in his heyday.
I get it. It’s not the popular thing to say. But frankly, Jagr > Crosby.
If you want to talk about what they mean to the city or even the league, then yes, you can put Crosby ahead of Jags. For this argument though, we’re looking strictly at their numbers.
Jagr has obviously played longer, but let’s compare some numbers.
Jagr – five-time scoring champ, two-time Stanley Cup champion, Olympic Gold, World Championship, one Hart Trophy (six nominations), three Pearson Awards, eight-time All Star, 678 goals, 999 assists, 1,677 points, 281 career +/- and 1,376 games played.
Crosby – scoring leader, Stanley Cup champion, Olympic Gold, , one Hart Trophy, one Pearson award, four-time All Star, 236 goals, 425 assists, 661 points, 103 career +/- and 466 games played.
While it’s true that Jagr played in many places after he left Pittsburgh, he still sits second to Lemieux in all offensive categories except point per game, where he is third to Lemieux and Crosby. In 806 games in Pittsburgh, Jagr has six Penguins records. In 466 games played in Pittsburgh, Crosby has one.
Jagr is still trucking along at 41-years-old, but his career is winding down.
So is his time as the second best Penguins of all-time.
No disrespect to the other legends that have played at the Mellon Arena, but Crosby is on his way to making the Consol Energy Center the “House that Sidney Built.”
At just 25 years of age, Crosby is still developing his game and getting better each time he takes the ice. In his last three seasons, Crosby has 155 points in just 95 games.
Imagine if he didn’t get hurt.
While Jagr is still the better Penguin, he burnt every bridge on his way out. When it’s said and done Crosby will pass Jagr and keep the bridges intact.
Now the question is, can he pass Mario?
Photo Credits: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette