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The price of stardom

Could Crosby signing cost Penguins a shot at the Cup?

Posted: Tuesday July 10, 2007 1:13PM; Updated: Tuesday July 10, 2007 4:52PM
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So much for taking one for the team.

On the surface, today's news that Sidney Crosby and the Penguins have come to terms on a five-year, $43.5 million contract extension is one that should make both sides happy and send Pittsburghers into paroxysms of delight. But when you stop to consider the magnitude of the numbers, this deal looks more like a mixed blessing for a team that has short-term Stanley Cup aspirations and begs an important question: How bad does Sidney want to win?

On the happy side of the ledger: Crosby will be wearing the yellow and black for another six seasons. The NHL's reigning scoring champ and most valuable player, all of 19 years old, can set out to re-write the record books as a Penguin free of the financial concerns that weigh heavily on his peers like, for example, choosing between the dollar menu and a value meal. And the way contracts are trending upward this summer, there's no doubt he'll provide better bang for the buck than any other recent signing.

The deal even came with a bit of sacrifice. Sid gave up what could have been his first shot at free agency with the fifth year of the deal in exchange for the security it provides for himself and the next, oh, five or six generations of Crosbys.

And you can't blame Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero for backing up the bank truck when he saw the writing on the wall. If the Edmonton Oilers were willing to offer $50 million over seven years to Thomas Vanek -- a fine and promising, but hardly franchise-altering player -- then the potential for some kind of cap-strangling offer sheet was a pitfall he needed to avoid.

Of course, like the Sabres, Shero would have matched any offer that came Sid's way. So in getting this deal done now on his terms instead of those dictated by a rival GM, he spared himself some grief next summer, along with about $1.06 million per season as the cap stands today.

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