Sidney or Mario? Best Penguin Ever

Sidney Crosby is one of the most popular players in the NHL today, and for good reason.  He is leading the league in points at the All Star break despite having missed the last eight games.  The Pittsburgh Penguins have won a Stanley Cup title in his regime, and lost the one before that.  They are a legitimate contender again this season.

Mario Lemieux led the Penguins to consecutive Cup wins in the mid-90s and was arguably the best player of his time.  There is no shortage of comparisons to the Penguins that Lemieux led and the ones Crosby now leads.  Evgeni Malkin is the equivalent of Jaromir Jagr – every superhero needs a sidekick, right?

It is certainly too early to make this judgment given that Crosby is only 23 years old and in his sixth season, but who is the best Pittsburgh Penguin of all time? Throwing out this year so far for Crosby, here is an interesting comparison between two superstars through five seasons of play.

Mario Lemieux was a rookie in 1984-85 and through five seasons he had played in a total of 368 games.  Crosby through five seasons had played in 371 games.  Super Mario had more points through five seasons (715) than did Crosby (506).  For a team captain that is the key stat since these are the top scorers on their respective teams.  However, if you look at the team records the Penguins only made the playoffs in one of Lemieux’s first five seasons, while Crosby’s Pens have been regulars in the postseason.

Statistically, in just about all key categories, Super Mario trumps Sid the Kid through five seasons.  Ultimately players will be judged on winning and not stats alone, however, and Crosby has hoisted Lord Stanley once in his first five seasons.  Lemieux did not win the Cup until his 7th season in the NHL.

I would attribute that to supporting cast and level of competition more than anything so — for now — I believe that Mario Lemieux is still the greatest Penguin of all time.

But at 23, Sidney Crosby still has plenty of time to catch up.

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