New Kids Fans of Sid; Sidney Crosby Used to Embody Something Different to These Kids: A Hero for Justin Schultz, a Heavy for Bryan Rust, a Muse for Conor Sheary. [Derived Headline]

By West, Bill | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 26, 2016 | Go to article overview

New Kids Fans of Sid; Sidney Crosby Used to Embody Something Different to These Kids: A Hero for Justin Schultz, a Heavy for Bryan Rust, a Muse for Conor Sheary. [Derived Headline]


West, Bill, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Sidney Crosby used to embody something different to these kids: a hero for Justin Schultz, a heavy for Bryan Rust, a muse for Conor Sheary.

What Crosby did mattered to them even years ago. But the relationship between the role model and the Penguins' younger players evolved this season. The attention flows in both directions.

And with the Penguins a win away from their first Stanley Cup Final since 2009 and a loss away from the end of their season, the youngsters are front and center in the latest saga of Crosby's career rather than following it and taking cues from afar.

"I do feel like (his) teammate," Sheary said just days after his third call-up of the season and minutes after he watched Crosby tally two goals and two assists in a 6-2 win over Anaheim in February. "But at the same time, you still learn things from guys. ... He was one of the prodigies in this league."

Crosby knows the eyes are still on him, though they now look for different things.

"Just trying to lead by example," he said. "Guys who've been through different things want to make sure that they're setting a good example."

None among Sheary, Rust, Schultz and even Matt Murray shoulders the weight of expectations Crosby experienced when the Penguins reached the Cup Final in 2008 and '09. Their roles range from starting goaltender to third-pair defenseman. All fall short of the franchise center label placed upon Crosby.

That hype intrigued the Penguins' rookies and other fresh faces well before they knew Crosby as a teammate.

A high school student in Michigan in 2008 and '09, Rust rooted for Crosby to disappoint when the Penguins met Detroit for the Cup.

"In my house, I was cheering for the Wings, and I can't really admit that to too many people around here," Rust said in a recent interview with Detroit's ABC television affiliate. …

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