Crosby makes a statement

BLAIR MCCARRON - SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 3:02 AM ET

Mississauga, Ont. -- Armed with a new contract, the captainís ĎCí and some playoff experience, Sidney Crosby feels the need to take on even more of a leadership role.

So, the Penguins superstar spent parts of this year sitting around the dinner table with his mother and father trying to decide on final designs for the clothes that were launched today.

Crosby was flanked by models wearing "I (heart) Crosby" pink baby tees, at a GTA mall today promoting his new signature Reebok hockey equipment and clothing line.

Last year's leading point getter earned a hefty pay raise in July. The soft-spoken Maritimer could have asked for the maximum salary under Penguinsí cap, making him the league's highest paid player. Instead, Crosby, his agent Pat Brisson and Pens general manager Ray Shero agreed on an annual amount of $8.7M; a number that fittingly matches the one on the back of his jersey.

Crosby accepted the captaincy this summer, after turning down the chance earlier in his career. The reigning Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner says being selected as captain ranks as his most memorable NHL moment to date.

"Itís always been a dream,Ē he smiled. ďBeing named captain is probably the biggest honourĒ

Despite his career accolades, and the fact the Penguins finished the regular season last year with 105 points, Crosby feels he and his teammates must enter this season with a clean slate.

"We want to win obviously, but just because we made the playoffs last year, it doesnít mean the post-season is a gimme this year. Thatís always been my mindset."

Crosby feels he doesnít need to alter his demeanor in the dressing room, or on the ice.

"Iíve never been a rah, rah guy," Crosby shrugged. ďI try to lead by example, and Iím looking forward to having some older guys on the team who I can learn from"

Realizing what it takes

Last yearís early exit from the playoffs was a lesson for Crosby. He spoke about being knocked out of the playoffs in Ottawa last spring.

"You realize what it takes. There are times (during the regular season) when youíre winning and you know youíre not playing well. But, what we didnít realize was that can come back to hurt you in the playoffs. Having experience seeing that extra level it is going to take, will force us to raise our game throughout the season."

So far in his early career, Crosby feels at home in Pittsburgh and would like to emulate hall of fame players Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman by staying with the same franchise for his entire career.

"That would be nice. I look at those guys and I think that says a lot to stay with one organization.

"You see their situations, and the way they went through tough times. But, there were also good times for them at the end."

Despite the added pressure heading into the new season Crosbyís goal is to win the Stanley Cup.

"Itís always been a dream to play in the NHL and one day hoist the Cup, and everyone knows itís the captain who gets that opportunity."

Crosby will take his first steps along that path on October 5th in Raleigh, N.C., when his Penguins have their season opener against the Hurricanes.


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