Can we still call him "Sid the Kid?"
After 1,000 career games, the moniker can be contributed to Sidney Crosby's evergreen love for the game and his elite ability at 33 years of age. Hockey fans everywhere still hold on to parts of that rosy-cheeked wunderkind from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, that became the face of hockey 16 years ago.
The Penguins' blue-chip pivot is the first player in franchise history to reach the millennium mark in games played, and his accomplishments along the way have formed a body of work unmatched by most.
Before we get into the numbers, let's briefly revisit what's been a remarkable ride for No. 87 thus far.
Crosby burst onto the scene with 102 points in his rookie season. He then captured both his first Hart Trophy as MVP and first Art Ross Trophy with a league-best 120-point sophomore campaign. The Penguins made Crosby the youngest captain in NHL history ahead of Year 3, and by Year 4 he had led the franchise to the Stanley Cup. He accomplished all of this by the 290-game mark of his career.
In Year 5, Crosby potted 51 goals to win the "Rocket" Richard Trophy. Well-documented concussion issues kept him sidelined for the better part of the three seasons to follow, but in 2013-14, Sid had a remarkable rise back to the top. He captured both his second career Hart and Art Ross that season after breaking the 100-point mark for the fifth time.
With Crosby at the helm, the Penguins became the first team in 19 years to win back-to-back Stanley Cups (2016, 2017), with the captain collecting the Conn Smythe Trophy each time. In 2018-19, Crosby hit the 100-point mark once again - 14 years after doing it for the first time. Despite being in the latter half of his career, something tells us that "Sid the Kid" isn't done quite yet.
Let's take a moment to appreciate how incredible Crosby's first 1,000 games have been relative to his peers still playing today.
It's clear Crosby's body of work through 1,000 career games is superior. He also trumps every player on that list in both Stanley Cups and most of them in major individual awards, too.
It's worth mentioning players like Patrick Kane (992 games played) and Crosby's longtime teammate Evgeni Malkin (923 games played) are on track to be near the top of that list once they reach 1,000 games. Malkin projects to reach around 1,176 points, which would still put him 100 back of Crosby.
When looking at Crosby's illustrious career to date from a historical perspective, there's no questioning his status as one of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of skates.
The 33-year-old is surrounded by Hall of Famers at this stage of his career both statistically and in terms of hardware. Below shows statistics from each player through 1,000 career games as well as how many Stanley Cups, Hart Trophies, and Art Ross Trophies they collected during that span.
*Mario Lemieux and Peter Stastny never reached the 1,000-game mark but remain in the top 10 in terms of points among players who did
Crosby sits sixth in points and fourth in assists, which is impressive enough, but his greatness truly shines through when we understand which era each player played in. Using Hockey Reference's era-adjusted formulas, we can say with some reason Crosby has had the third-best career through his first 1,000 games in NHL history.
With everything he's already accomplished, it's crazy to consider Crosby likely still has five-to-seven years of quality hockey left in him. The Penguins' perennial captain recently confirmed his desire to remain with the club for the remainder of his career, but whether or not the franchise can get back to being Stanley Cup contenders in that time remains to be seen.
Statistically, he currently ranks 37th on the NHL's all-time scoring list. It's impossible to say how long Crosby can keep pace with his career point per game average of 1.27 - which is currently seventh-best all time - but it's reasonable to believe he'll crack the top 10 when all is said and done.
If Crosby can average around 55 points for the next six seasons, which is extremely likely, he'll become just the 10th player ever to eclipse the 1,600-point mark.