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But the truth is that he doesn't want anything until he has earned it. When Shero first asked Crosby to be the Penguins' captain, in early 2007, the 19-year-old turned it down. He didn't think he was ready.
"I always hear the same thing: Get a winger for Crosby, get a winger for Crosby," says the G.M. "He has never once asked me to get a player for him to play with."
In fact, at the trade deadline Shero made a deal with the Flames for six-time All-Star Jarome Iginla, 35, who assisted on Crosby's gold-medal-winning goal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. But when Shero talked to Crosby about the trade, Crosby said that he was happy playing on a line with Dupuis and Chris Kunitz, two undrafted players who had been having their best seasons. (It was Kunitz, in fact, who scored Sunday's game-winner, off an assist from Crosby.)
The key to playing with Crosby: skate fast and always be ready for the puck. He takes care of the rest.
Crosby was a lousy face-off man early in his career, but he worked on it and became one of the best. "He's got a lot of talent and he hones everything," says Niskanen. Which is what the Penguins mean when they say Crosby is a great leader: He shows what perfectionism looks like. If you want rah-rah speeches, rent a movie.
Crosby is playing at such a high level now that his game should have the same effect on critics that LeBron James's peaking game did the last two years, forcing them to applaud against their will. You can't boo when your jaw drops. Dupuis says Crosby feeds off the hate: "In Philly, as soon as the 'Crosby sucks!' chant starts going, I look to him on the bench, and I know he is going to have a great game." But Crosby does not fight it publicly.
"I don't think everyone likes Tiger Woods," his father says. "Not everyone likes LeBron. Just pick a sport—not everybody likes everybody. [Sidney] doesn't go to bed at night worrying about what the Flyers' fans think of him. He's had so much bad luck the last few years that I think he is just happy to be playing."
Pittsburgh has been disappointed lately by the behavior of other young stars—most famously, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but also 33-year-old mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who took office at 26 and who recently dropped his re-election bid amid a federal investigation into police spending. (Last week Ravenstahl responded to an unfavorable story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with a rant in the newspaper's online comments section. The highlight: "It's actually laughable to think that you print your newspaper everyday [sic] with a straight face.")
Crosby, who signed a 12-year, team-friendly contract extension for $104.4 million last summer, just wants to go to work. He moved in with team owner Mario Lemieux as an 18-year-old rookie (the two were teammates that first season), and though he said he was leaving almost three years ago, he still hasn't moved out. Crosby is building a house near Lemieux's, and he will move when it's finished.
He doesn't buy a new sports car every year. (He drives a Range Rover in Pittsburgh and a Chevy Tahoe in Nova Scotia.) He spent much of last off-season in Santa Monica, Calif.—but he did it to get away from stardom. There he could eat lunch on a restaurant patio without being recognized.