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Sidney Crosby’s reputation shouldn’t be the thing that defines his incredible career

For The Win logo For The Win 2017-05-19 Charles Curtis

What is Sidney Crosby's legacy as of right now?

It's a question probably worth asking if the Pittsburgh Penguins dig themselves out of a 2-1 Eastern Conference Finals deficit against the Ottawa Senators and give Crosby a chance to win a third Stanley Cup.

But there's no time like the present, especially after what we've seen from him in 2016-17. For those of you who immediately think of Crosby as one of the all-time greats, you're good to go.

But I wonder how many fans or current/former players out there immediately associate Crosby with phrases like "whining" or "cry-baby." Or that he's "boring" because he's not animated in press conferences or on social media. Or that he's a habitual diver.

USA TODAY © USA TODAY USA TODAY

And maybe that's an attempt to get under his skin and throw him off his game, and yes, I'd say earlier in his career, he would interact with referees plenty.

But if that's how we're going to remember Crosby when he's done with hockey, that seems absurd.

Check out this resume:

1. He's totaled 72 or more points in nine of his 12 seasons.

2. He's won a scoring title twice, including this year with 44 goals, which is nuts given that he hasn't scored more than 40 since 2009-10, when he led the league with 51.

3. He's had the most points in a season twice.

4. He has 152 total points in 138 playoff games.

5. Most importantly, he's got two Stanley Cups. Along with that hardware, there are the two Hart Trophys (regular season MVP), one Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) and two Olympic gold medals.

6. He's only 29.

As of right now, that all makes him arguably a top-15 player - USA TODAY Sports' Kevin Allen ranked him 14th, just behind Nicklas Lidstrom and Patrick Roy, which seems about right … for now.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports © USA TODAY Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

But what if he wins another couple of Cups? What if he ends up in the top 10 in all-time points (he's 77th right now with 1,027)? I'd say the top-10 - with hallowed names like Messier, Lafleur, Lemieux and "Rocket" - is deserved.

And here's the key point of this exercise: For all of that whining talk or whatever you want to call it, there's the fact that he's given his all with his body and his head over the last 12 years. You can't argue about his passion and heart, and the sacrifices he's made, not to mention how hard he plays on both ends.

Would a whiner put his body on the line at the end of a long shift with a blocked shot that leads to a goal, as Crosby did in Game 2 against the Capitals to then feed Jake Guentzel?

Call him whatever you want, but if you're not stepping back and appreciating seeing one of the greatest to lace up the skates play in your lifetime, you're missing out on something truly special.

Sidney Crosby's reputation shouldn't be the thing that defines his incredible career © Getty Images Sidney Crosby's reputation shouldn't be the thing that defines his incredible career
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