Crosby’s legacy defies workload

Sidney Crosby plays about 23 shifts a game and averages 58 seconds a shift. That means he’s on the bench, catching his breath, for 64 percent of every game. But the truth is no one in hockey has done more while playing less than half of a match.

The truth is between standing centre stage in last Saturday’s Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals and playing a prominent role in a HBO 24/7 reality series the Pittsburgh Penguins mega-star spends more time promoting hockey than playing it.

“If you look at the last three or four years, there has been a lot happening with the Stanley Cup and the Olympics,” Crosby, 23, said. “There is always something new every season.”

It’s more like eight years that Crosby has lived in the fishbowl. When he was 16, he had rock star-like popularity while playing junior hockey in Quebec. He was named the Penguins’ captain and won a scoring title at 19 and he won a Stanley Cup at 21. At 22, facing as much pressure as any athlete at the Vancouver Olympics, he delivered the gold medal-winning goal in his home country.

Heading into 2011 Crosby continues to be playing the best hockey of his career. He netted at least one point in 25 consecutive games before the New York Islanders ended his run. It was the longest streak since Mats Sundin recorded a point in 30 in a row in 1992-93.

He also continues to thwart his Russian arch-rival Alexander Ovechkin. This season Crosby has 23 more points than the Washington Capitals star. In fact Crosby is on a pace to net 135 points, which would be the highest total since Penguins owner Mario Lemieux accumulated 161 as a player in 1995-96.

Heading into the 2009-10 season, Crosby indicated he wanted to become a more dangerous goal-scorer because defenders were overplaying him to pass. His goal production went from 36 to 51. He has 32 goals and 33 assists in 39 games so far this year.

“Mostly I’m just attacking and going to the net. It’s just about competing hard. I’m just capitalizing on the chances I’m getting and the team is playing well. But I honestly don’t feel like I’m playing differently.”