Before QMJHL training camp
began last summer, Wayne Gretzky stunned the hockey world saying that a young
16-year-old player named Sidney Crosby, who had yet to play a game at
junior level, could be the first one to break some of his records. As the QMJHL
2003-04 regular season is coming close to an end, the least you can say about
Crosby’s junior debut that he went well over expectations.
To give an idea of the impact
of Crosby on the Rimouski Oceanic team, note that this .500 club recorded a
mere win, eight losses and two draws when he was off the roster for 11 straight
games during the World Junior Championship. Over that period, the offensive of
the Oceanic slumped from an average of 4 goals per game to a mere 2.4.
With still six games to play in
the 2003-04 regular season, Crosby has 50 goals and 69 assists for a total of
Below is a review of what he
has done already, and which landmarks and records he could be associated with
by the end of the season. We also compared some of his performances with the
best ever in the QMJHL and CHL.
The portrait demonstrates
that no 16-year-old Canadian player since Gretzky has been as good as Crosby.
Last December, 2005-eligible
prospect Sidney Crosby became only the fifth ever 16-year-old player to be part
of Team Canada at the World Junior Championship.
On December 29th,
aged 16 years, 4 months and 24 days, he became the youngest player to ever
score a goal at the WJC. The goal was against Switzerland. The puck now lies at
the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
and landmarks as a 16-year-old player
Total Points as a 16-year-old. With 119 points so far and still
six games to play, Crosby should break the QMJHL record of 125 points set by
Normand Dupont 30 years ago.
To put it in perspective, it
has to be mentioned that when former NHLer Dupont reached that mark in 1973-74,
the QMJHL average goals scored per game was 10.8 compared to 6.7 in the 2003-04
season. That means there were 62 percent more goals scored every game at that
time compared to this year. The 125 points scored by Dupont placed him 25th
in the league, 126 points behind the scoring leader Pierre Larouche.
16-year-old to win the Scoring Title. With only
six games to play, Crosby is 14 points ahead of teammate Danny Roussin,
who is second in points. He will probably become the first ever 16-year-old
player to win the scoring title in the QMJHL. None did it neither in the West
or in the Ontario leagues either. Even Wayne Gretzky didn’t make it as former
NHLer Bobby Smith got ahead of him in 1977-78.
Up to this year, there were
only ten 16-year-old players in the history of QMJHL who recorded more than 100
points in a single season. Only one of them, Alexandre Daigle, managed to rank
among the top 10 league’s scoring leaders as he was the ninth best scorer in
1991-92. Thus, topping everyone is a huge accomplishment for Crosby.
The First to
average Two Points per Game. As Crosby can’t play more than 59
games this year, his actual total of 119 points assures him a final record of
more than two points per game. This is tops for a QMJHL 16-year-old.
Until now, the best ever was
Normand Dupont who recorded 1.79 points per game in the offensive era of the
mid 1970’s. Mike Bossy and Pierre Turgeon respectively had 1.69 and 1.65 PPG.
Among other leaders are Mario Lemieux with 1.5 and Denis Savard with 1.61.
Crosby’s average is huge considering there are many fewer goals scored in
Wayne Gretzky is the only one
who had a better record than Crosby as a 16-year-old. ‘The Great One recorded
2.45 points per game in 1977-78. It has to be pointed out that there were 9
goals scored per game that season in the Ontario Hockey Association. It is 34
percent more than this QMJHL season.
the Contribution to Team’s Offense. So far, Crosby contributed
to 51 percent of the 232 goals scored
by his team when he was in the roster. It is far ahead of the estimated record of previous
16- years-old select club of 100 and more points scorers like Normand Dupont (
28 percent), Mike Bossy ( 27 percent), Denis Savard (29 percent), Jimmy Carson
( 32 percent), Pierre Turgeon ( 35 percent) and Vincent Lecavalier ( 37
percent). Note: This statistic excludes the team goals scored when the players
were not in the roster. As we don’t have the original games sheet, for every
game missed by a player, we substracted from the total teams goals scored the
average of goals scored per game.
The Crosby’s contribution is
only two percent shy of the Mario Lemieux’s record. Aged 18 years, ‘’Super
Mario‘’ was involved in about 53 percent of his Laval’s team goals in 1983-84,
the year he scored an unequalled 282 points.
In the 16-year category,
Gretzky’s mark has yet to be beaten as he contributed to about 58 percent of
the Sault Ste-Mary’s goals when he was in the roster.
Only seven players in the history of QMJHL won the triple crown, as we can call
the title representing the player who leads all three categories of goals,
assists and points. Among the ones who made it are NHL franchise players Dale
Hawerchuk, Pat Lafontaine and Mario Lemieux. In the history of Quebec, Ontario
and Western leagues, only five players made it at 17-year-old (Hawerchuk,
Lafontaine, Lindros, Marc Savard and Rob Brown) and none of them ever made it
Crosby easily leads with 69 passes and 119 points. He is one goal shy of Dany
Roussin. If he passes his teammate, he will become the first ever major junior
player in Canada to win the triple crown.
season. Crosby became the first 16-year-old player to score
50 goals in 30 years.
In the history of QMJHL, only
three players managed to do it including the Hall of Famer Mike Bossy. They all
did it in 1973-74 and 1974-75 when scoring was much higher as previously
QMJHL and CHL honors . Crosby has been named five times
the Offensive Player of the Week in the Quebec league and twice he received the
same honor for the month. He was also twice named the best CHL Player of the
Week. No other player has received this amount of honors in Quebec’s league nor
elsewhere in the CHL.
At the end of the season,
Crosby will receive the QMJHL Jean Beliveau Trophy for his scoring title as
well as the Top CHL scorer Award. Doing so, he will be the first 16-year-old
player ever to receive these honors.
He could also be the first
ever 16-year-old player to receive the MVP award in QMJHL and also the first in
this group of age to be named either on the first or second All-Star Team.
Finally, it is doubtful that
Crosby will not be designated the Rookie of the year at both levels.
streak with a point. So far, Crosby has recorded at
least a point in his last 19 games. That is the longest streak in the QMJHL
goals. Crosby ranks second in the QMJHL with 19 powerplay
goals. Remember that he missed 11 games because of the WJC.
He ranks third in QMJHL for the plus/minus with a +41.
shots on goal. He is ranked fourth in QMJHL for the shots on
goal, tied with teammate Danny Roussin, both having a total of 248 shots.
Hadn’t Crosby missed games for the WJC, he would easily rank second.
of shots on goal. Crosby not only shoots often to the
net but he has one of the best efficiency in the QMJHL. His 20.2 percent
efficiency makes him fourth among the players who record a minimum of 40 games
played and 25 goals scored.
That is not an achievement but it has to be noted that among the 11 QJMHL
16-year-old players who recorded 100 points or more, Crosby accumulated the
most penalty in minutes. He has already 66 PIM. That shows that Crosby can also
play some kind of physical game.
All those numbers are quite
remarkable but Crosby remains very much grounded. After a recent game in
Drummondville, we asked to Crosby how does he feel with all his exceptional
“Scoring goals and
making plays is part of my job, I didn’t come with any expectations prior the
start of the season,” he said. “I’m playing hockey, I’m having fun
and I enjoy it,” he added.
Ever at 16?
Asked to comment Crosby’s
performance before a recent game, Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne said that the
caliber is not there today as the players are now drafted by the NHL teams at
18 years compared to 20 until 1979. “There is a huge difference playing
against guys of 18 versus guys of 20,” commented Dionne.
Mr. Dionne has a point, but
it has to be pointed out that in the 1970’s, with very few exceptions, all
QMJHL players came from Quebec’s province. Things have changed since as this
season more than 100 players originate from Europe, USA and the Atlantic
provinces. These players contribute significantly to increase the caliber of
the game. Indeed, of the actual 57
QMJHL players drafted by NHL teams, 22 are either from Europe, USA or Atlantic
It is most likely unfair
trying to compare players from different eras. Nevertheless, it seems to us
that Crosby’s record tends to demonstrate, with all the imperfections the
exercise could contain, that as a 16-year-old player he must be considered the
best ever, with the only exception of Gretzky who simply lived on an other
planet when he had 182 points and was selected on the All Star Team of the World
Junior Championship at 16-year old.
That said, we must keep in
mind that Crosby has still a long way ahead of him before we could make any
further expectations. In the meantime, Gretzky’s comments about Crosby’s
ability to break some of his records will follow the young Nova Scotia born
player for years.
For those who expect him to
play somewhere else next year, don’t count on it. During the WJC in Helsinki,
we asked to Crosby if he would be interested to play in the WHA 2 or in Europe
next year. The question surprised him and shocked him a bit. His answer was
clear: “I’ll play in Rimouski next year!”
Recently, rumors floated
again across some Quebec media about his near future. Some talked again about
possible Europe and WHA 2 transfers. Even a member of the WHA 2 Quebec’s
organization said he would like to have Crosby on the roster. Other rumours
cited by La Presse newspaper in Montreal evoked a possible transfer in
Sidney Crosby had to repeat
again that he will stay with Rimouski Oceanic next year. Rimouski Oceanic
Hockey Operations Assistant Yannick Dumais explained us that a CHL rule
stipulates that Darmouth territory residents belong to QMJHL. If Crosby would
ever want to leave Rimouski for another CHL junior team, he would have to be
put on the waivers by Rimouski. Then, Quebec teams would have the first pick.
And they would not let Crosby go. There are almost no way a player can leave
his designed league unless teams want let him go.
“Crosby agents Pat
Brisson and Richard Paquette are former players of the QMJHL, they have great
respect for this league,” also stressed Dumais. Drummondville General
Manager Michel Georges also said he doesn’t think that Crosby would play
anywhere but Rimouski next year.
Sidney Crosby has nothing to
gain moving somewhere else next season. It is already 100 percent sure that he
will be the NHL first overall Entry Draft pick in 2005. Doing so, he will only
become the third player being the first overall selection while not having yet
reached 18 years old. The only two having this distinction are Pierre Turgeon
and Joe Thornton.
Richard is the author of La Serie du siecle, Septembre 1972, a book
about the Summit Series published in 2002.