Pen­guins’ Crosby joins 1,000-point club

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS -

PITTSBURGH >> Sid­ney Crosby is the new­est mem­ber of the NHL’s 1,000-point club.

The Pittsburgh Pen­guins star be­came the 86th player in league his­tory to reach 1,000 ca­reer points when he as­sisted on Chris Ku­nitz’s goal 6:28 into the first pe­riod on Thurs­day night against Win­nipeg.

Crosby’s helper gave him 632 as­sists to go with 368 goals. Crosby reached the mile­stone in 757 games, mak­ing him the 12th fastest to the mark.

The sell­out crowd at PPG Paints Arena erupted when Crosby out­worked Win­nipeg’s Blake Wheeler to get to a loose puck in the left cir­cle then slid it over to Ku­nitz in the slot. Ku­nitz pow­ered it into the wide open net to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead, and Crosby saluted the crowd dur­ing the next stop­page in play. Crosby is the third Pen­guin to reach 1,000 points with the fran­chise, join­ing Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

The mo­ment is not only a tes­ta­ment to Crosby’s bril­liance but also some­thing equally as im­por­tant: longevity. It’s some­thing the two-time Stan­ley Cup cham­pion, two-time Hart Tro­phy win­ner and two-time Olympic gold medal­ist does not take for granted.

A col­li­sion with Wash­ing­ton’s David Steckel dur­ing the 2011 Win­ter Clas­sic left Crosby con­cussed and brought the star’s ca­reer to an abrupt halt. He missed the bet­ter part of two cal­en­dar years try­ing to re­cover, and the long days in soli­tude left him won­der­ing if he’d ever re­turn to the level that made him the face of the sport.

And Crosby wasn’t the only one.

“I think there were a lot of ques­tion marks about the fu­ture and how his ca­reer would go from there,” said Buf­falo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, who coach Crosby in Pittsburgh from 2009-14. “I think in pretty short order af­ter that two-year pe­riod of time, he got back to be­ing the player who I think has been great for all of us to see him be, which is the best player in the league. He’s proven it again.”

Em­phat­i­cally. When he was di­ag­nosed with an­other con­cus­sion last Oc­to­ber, he pleaded pa­tience rather than anx­ious­ness. He sat out the first six games of the sea­son but re­turned with a vengeance. He leads the league in goals and is on pace to sur­pass his per­sonal best of 51 he put up in 2009-10.

GENE PUSKAR - AP

The Pen­guins’ Sid­ney Crosby ac­knowl­edges fans as he skates back to the bench af­ter as­sist­ing on a goal by Chris Ku­nitz, for the 1,000th point of his NHL ca­reer, Thurs­day in Pittsburgh.

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