The Philadelphia Flyers have had a bitter rivalry with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins for years. This made Flyers fans like myself rejoice harder when the team knocked Crosby and the Penguins out of the postseason - which made Philadelphia's subsequent loss to the New Jersey Devils much more surprising. But Crosby and Pittsburgh will spend the next 12 years together looking for revenge - or at least that is what they are counting on.
Considering Crosby's recent history with concussions, it would seem risky to commit 12 more years and over $104 million to him. Then again, his concussions are the one and only reason why it would be risky to give him this new deal. But it wasn't a strong enough reason to derail Pittsburgh, as it ensured Crosby would be a Penguin for life by drafting this extension on June 28.
If it pays off, the Penguins will have the biggest star in the NHL until at least 2025 - and set up another 10+ years of brutal Philadelphia-Pittsburgh games. The Flyers currently enjoy superiority over the Penguins, but the tide can turn quite a bit over 13 years.
In any case, since Pittsburgh has one Stanley Cup in the Crosby era to Philadelphia's zero, it will always have the big picture advantage until the Flyers get a Cup - which will be harder with Crosby still in their backyard. But will he actually stay in that backyard for 13 more seasons, or will one more hard hit ruin all of that?
Crosby is already the most targeted and among the most hated stars in the NHL, so everyone will be looking to give him one more concussion. He hasn't played a full year in a while due to these injuries, so can he still survive a full 82-game season and a lengthy postseason as well? If he can't, then not only could his career get cut short, but Pittsburgh could pay for committing so much to him anyway.
For several stretches last year, the Penguins were the hottest team in the NHL even without Crosby. This made everyone believe that once he returned, Pittsburgh would breeze to the Stanley Cup and easily knock out Philadelphia in round one. The Flyers did prove everyone wrong, however - and made it harder to ignore that the Penguins have been postseason disappointments since their 2008 Cup.
Even with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh is not guaranteed to win another championship, as Philadelphia proved a few months ago. And even with Crosby all but guaranteed to be a Penguin for the rest of his career, it doesn't mean that career will last until 2025. Nevertheless, the Penguins are going forward with this gamble - and if they win it, then the Flyers, the Eastern Conference and the NHL in general will be big losers instead.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
Other stories from this contributor
- Ice Hockey
- Sports & Recreation
- Sidney Crosby
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- the Penguins