Sidney Crosby is THW's 2017 Playoff MVP

Pittsburgh Penguins players celebrate after defeating the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Sunday

Toss in goaltender Tristan Jarry, who served as a backup while Matt Murray recovered from injury, and this year's championship squad had a distinct youthful presence from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Later that summer, Crosby hung around the Canadian world junior summer camp in Halifax, eager to soak up any kernel of knowledge he could from this country's top teenagers.

For instance, would you take Sidney Crosby or Mario Lemieux in their prime? A reporter asked No. 99 if someone down the road would one day beat his records.

Crosby has been that good.

They have outstanding talent.

Rutherford did a remarkable job finding players who fit that mold for a long time. Helping celebrate their historic accomplishment were their families, who shared the spotlight as soon as the Penguins were awarded the Stanley Cup for the second straight year.

Teammate Evgeni Malkin is his closest statistical peer, but really the best current comparables for his dominance over the sport - with regard to personal and team success -are the NBA's LeBron James and NFL's Tom Brady.

The Nashville and Pittsburgh series in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs was phenomenal, Pekka Rinne was brilliant even though he had to be replaced a few times by backup Juuse Saros.

Lord Stanley's Cup will be making a trip to Cole Harbour, N.S., for a second year in a row.

Crosby's former minor hockey coach Paul Mason said in an interview on Monday that this drops the Penguins' captain into some pretty elite company. But Peter Laviolette's fast-skating bunch with the lockdown defense roared past Chicago in a sweep to get things started and shrugged off the home-ice advantage of St. Louis and Anaheim on the way to the first Final in the franchise's 19-year history — much to the joy of their catfish-tossing fans. They played in different eras. Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, who played only 33 National Hockey League games prior to this season and was technically not a rookie, made his first National Hockey League playoff appearance. He was heavily involved in organizing Crosby's last two Stanley Cup parades. Every team has a chance to win.

Another reason to give Crosby the trophy is the part he played in the emergence of rookie winger Jake Guentzel.

Lemieux was more talented and may be the most talented player in hockey history. No. 87 is so aware defensively, and has more grit and determination in his own end. You could not say the same about Gretzky.

"I would have to believe that with what Sid has been able to accomplish in his career to this point would put him in the company of the all-time greats", said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan.

The Blackhawks' three Stanley Cup wins between 2010 and 2015 were a huge achievement, given the constraints of the salary cap, but the Penguins just became the first team in almost two decades to win back-to-back titles, and they did so in large part because of Crosby, who led the NHL in goals for the second time in his career and who played some of his best hockey in the playoffs, when the Pens needed to win three tough series in a row in order to repeat.

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