[Written February 2017]
Crosby and Malkin, or Sid and Geno, are the captain and alternate captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, currently the longest-tenured Penguins outside of Marc-André Fleury. Since their first season together, during the 2006-2007 campaign, they have been two of the best players in the NHL. They are both generational talents, incredible players, and regularly dominate the ice. Geno might be the more physically gifted of the two, but usually resides in Sidney's shadow--and seems happy to be there--who simply outworks everyone and reads the game on a level few can keep up with. They are the indisputable leaders of the Penguins, and fan favourites in Pittsburgh and Penguins fandom in general. As Paul Martin once wrote: "You see so many 7s in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, most have an 8 before or a 1 after. Sid and Geno run the town."[1] (Martin wore the nr. 7 when he played for the Penguins.) Geno has referred to the two of them as best friends.[2]

The Beginning Edit

Sid and Geno knew about each other and had played against each other in international play before they were drafted by the Penguins, but weren't properly introduced until Geno arrived in Pittsburgh on Monday 4 September 2006. They met when Geno was brought to the Lemieux family home from the Pittsburgh airport to meet Mario Lemieux and Sergei Gonchar--and Sidney Crosby, who was living with the Lemieux family at the time.[3] Though initially finding it hard to bond because of the language barrier, they used teammate Sergei Gonchar as interpreter[4] and quickly became friends that first year together.

Geno has said that he first became aware of Sid when they were 15 and 14; his agent (whose agency was also representing Sid) told him about another young client with a generational talent. Geno asked for his name and started following a young Sidney Crosby's career. Sid, on the other hand, admits to not knowing a lot about Geno before the Penguins:

"He's someone I saw play. Played against him in the World Juniors and things like that. Hadn't really met him and didn't know a lot about him, and didn't have any friends who had played with him or anything like that. Just kind of an unknown, you know?"[5]
Sid and Geno don't just mesh well on the team, but they are good friends off the ice as well. They have very different personalities, but have managed to strike up a friendship and partnership that has lasted years without there ever having been reports of the two fighting. In fact, they are each one of the other's stoutest supporters. They love each other[6], and regularly gush about each other's hockey, or engage in goodnatured chirping. Geno, in particular, is effusive with his praise of Sid, graceful in his concession of Crosby as the best hockey player in the world. Their mutual respect and adoration for each other has led to one of the best 'bromances' in the NHL. Sid, a notoriously superstitious person, even went so far as to adjust his game-day ritual of going out last onto the ice, in favour of Geno's seniority. As explained by Sid:
“My first year here, I used to go out last. Geno used to go out last whenever he played in Russia. In our first game together, we were both used to going out last. We got to that spot where it was time to go out on the ice, and we were both looking at each other. It was funny and awkward because he didn’t speak a lot of English. I was trying to talk it out with him. He just looked at me and said, ‘Three years [in the Russian] Super League.’”[7]
Sid and Geno are also fiercely competitive, a characteristics that defines their dynamic and which is "as perfect as it is misunderstood". According to Max Talbot:
"(Malkin) is more of a leader than people probably give him credit for. (Crosby) wants to win, maybe more than anybody I know, but most of all, he just wants to have fun."
Back in 2008, Geno agreed with this assessment, saying that things between him and Sid were great "because it's fun."[8]

Since the 2006-2007 season, the two have been a constant, on and off the ice, for a team that has seen four coaching changes, a dramatic change in lineup, and through various injuries. The "wicked combination of both personalities is ideal for the team’s spirit."[9]

Sid and Geno on the Ice Edit

Together, they make up Pittsburgh's Two-headed Monster. Now in their 11th season together, Sid and Geno, both natural centres, haven't actually played all that much on the same line. There were some games early on where Geno would be placed on Sid's wing, and it has happened sporadically throughout the years (always Geno on the wing) when the coaches want to generate offence or as a Hail Mary, but generally the power play is where Sid and Geno will share ice time. As of April 2016, the most Penguins goals off Sid's assists was Geno with 97[10], this despite then only having shared 30.15% of Sid's total time on ice or TOI. (Note: as of Feb 2017, Sid has assisted on 101 of Geno's goals). Comparatively, Chris Kunitz, who was Sid's regular linemate for years and has been on the ice for 45.60% of Sid's TOI,[11] had by then scored 79 goals off Sid's assist. Similarly, Sid has scored 92 goals off Geno's assists,[12] by far the most of any other player. Despite their relative lack of shared TOI, Sid and Geno have combined for 193 goals, accounting for 7.5% of the Penguins offence since the 2006-2007 season.[13] Based on this data, it's not inconceivable to believe that this number would be much higher had not multiple injuries kept them away for so many games, and it shows that they have great on-ice chemistry.

While both Sid and Geno produce points at a higher than average pace (they're 1st and 2nd of all active players[14], respectively, and 5th and 14th all time[15]), Geno's production increases without Sid in the lineup, whereas Sid's production increases with Geno in the lineup.[16]

Being There For Each Other Edit

Off-Ice Edit

Geno is perhaps the less serious of the two and the one most likely to joke around, which seems to relax Sid. Traditionally, Sid has handled most of the off-ice team obligations like interviews and media responsibility, although Geno has started to return the favour in recent years. Occasionally, the two will go to dinner just the two of them. Geno finds Sid easy to talk to and appreciates Sid's support when he gets frustrated with his play, talking it out together. Geno has publicly expressed his desire to retire a Penguin with Sid.[17]

The Concussion Edit

When Sid sustained the concussion that would sideline him for almost an entire year, reports eventually began surfacing about a rumour that a few players believed he was symptom-free and that he should be in the lineup. There was even talk of appointing an interim captain. The report was disputed by the team as a whole when they donned makeshift 'C's (and in Geno's case, a Russian 'K') in support of their captain.[18] No one, though, was more vocal than Geno, who kept insisting that the Penguins were "Sid's team", that Sid was still the top centre, still the best player.[19]

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Edit

After the tragic Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash that took the life of 44 people, many of whom were Geno's friends, Geno heavily engaged in charity efforts raising money to benefit the families of the victims.[20] One such effort included an auction of hockey items. A lot of these items were autographed by Russian players like Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk, and others by Jordan Staal (then still a Penguin) and Marc-André Fleury. A lot of the items were, naturally, signed by Sid, but there were also items autographed by Jonathan Toews and Zach Parise, neither of whom Geno is particularly close with. Instead, Geno asked Sid to reach out to these players on his behalf. Sid, who was still suffering from the concussion that kept him away from hockey for almost a year, didn't hesitate to do so, saying that he could tell how important the auction was to Geno.[21]

Olympic Funk 2014 Edit

After returning from the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Geno went into a slump (by his standards), producing only one goal and seven assists in a 10-game stretch, and going pointless in 4. Geno was obviously upset about Russia's loss during the Olympics, and eventually Sid sought him out to talk about it. Geno said that he hadn't been playing well since the Olympics, and insisted that the talk helped:

“Sid helped me a lot because he understands my problem. He supported me. He helped me. After we talked, I felt so much better, and I started to play better.”[22]
James Neal, then a winger on Geno's line, said that Geno seemed "angry" at the time, but Sid didn't see it that way. Rather, he saw someone who needed a friend. As Sid said:
“I can definitely relate to having pressure and expectations. [Geno] puts a lot of pressure on himself. I'm just trying to be there, like all of us. You care about your teammates. You want to see them happy. You want to see them having fun. That's most important.”[23]

Two of a kind Edit

Nobody understands Sid quite like Geno, and vice versa. They are the only ones to have won an MVP and a scoring title on their team, and they're the only ones with a full no-trade, no-move contract that is longterm and will likely retire them as Penguins. Aside from being generational talents, Sid and Geno don't actually have all that much in common on the surface. However, they share a "unique burden of being a face of the sport in their respective hockey-crazed countries." They're the franchise pillars of the Pittsburgh Penguins. "They have hockey in common and not much else, but that bond is strong[...]".[24]

International Competition Edit

Since the World Junior Championship in 2005, every time Sid and Geno have faced off with their national teams, Sid has walked away victorious. Most notably was perhaps the 2015 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic, where Canada beat Russia 6-1 in the final (Geno scored the lone Russian goal) and Sidney became the 26th member of the Triple Gold Club, and the only person in history to have captained his team to an Olympic Gold, a Stanley Cup, and a World Championship. He has since added a World Cup of Hockey championship to his resume, where he also captained his team. Geno, along with Alex Ovechkin, was one of the few Russians to remain on the ice while Team Canada celebrated their win in Prague, staying behind for the Canadian anthem while most of their Russian teammates, in an unprecedented move, left the ice early.[25] At one point during the game, Geno had the opportunity to slam Sid into the boards but instead delivered what might have been the gentlest hit in all of hockey.[26] Their most recent matchup was during the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, where Canada beat Russia 5-3 in the semi-finals in a game largely dominated by Sid (1G, 2A). Sid would eventually be voted MVP of the tournament.

Hanging out and Having Fun Edit

Sid and Geno have plenty of fun together--like unwinding in the locker room, throwing rolled up balls of tape into nearby garbage cans and giggling when the other misses--and are not afraid to chirp each other. Recently, when Sid reached his 1,000th NHL point, Geno joked that he'd helped him get 999 of those.[27] And when a conversation turned to Geno's tattoo, he insisted that Sid (who is tattoo-free) has a hidden one that says "Evgeni". The two were also caught playing two-touch with just the two of them, hidden away from everyone else before game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.[28] More often than not, it is Sid who is the butt of the joke or the victim of a prank, like when the whole team was supposed to cheer on the Steelers and, in what was clearly a planned setup, Sid was the only one who cheered. Geno was one of the first people to laugh at Sid's amused exasperation.[29] Sometimes Sid is the one who does the chirping, like when they were going to the Sochi Olympics and their plane out of Pittsburgh was delayed. Geno arrived and asked why Sid didn't tell him the plane was delayed (so he could wait at home), to which Sid replied that, "I thought you'd be later than this."

Cup Celebration Edit

Geno has said that one of his fondest memories of Sid is winning the Cup with him.[30] A lot of their immediate Cup celebration involved drinking alcohol and hugging each other ecstatically. Also there was Sid pouring alcohol from the Cup into Geno's mouth.[31]

Image Gallery Edit

Trivia Edit

  • In a Q&A with the NHLPA, Sidney Crosby revealed that if he could go anywhere in the world, it would be to Russia with Geno.
  • Geno has said that he and Sid doesn't talk that much on the ice because Sid talks too much and too fast and Geno doesn't understand him then. Sid said it goes both ways.
  • After losing a scrimmage in practice, Geno made Sid do his pushups (punishment for the losing team) even though Geno was the one who'd come up with the rule.
  • During a photoshoot with Whirl Magazine, Geno was asked to stand just off Sid's shoulder, but slid in behind him and leaned forward into a 'prom pose' and asked: "Like this?"[32]
  • In 2007, Sid signed a 5-year contract with the Penguins with an annual average of 8.7 million dollars, a nod to his jersey number 87, and his date of birth 8/7/87. He said at the time that he wouldn't mind if Geno got paid more. A year later, Geno did have the opportunity to go higher, but he said 'no' and wrote down 8.7 million.[33]
  • When the Penguins hosted a locker room ceremony before a game to commemorate Sid's 1,000th NHL point, Geno, presented him with a golden stick along with the core of Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, and Marc-André Fleury. Sid hugged each of the latter guys, and when he looked like he wasn't going to hug Geno, Geno demanded, "Hey! Give me a hug!"[34]
  • Geno has decals of himself, Sid, Marc-André Fleury, and Kris Letang on his fridge.[35]
  • When Team Russia was practicing at PPG Paints Arena before a pre-tournament game against Team Canada, Geno was given the stall that Sid usually sits in instead of using his own regular one.[36]
  • Geno has been known to take retaliatory penalties when a player of an opposing team harasses/abuses Sid on the ice.
  • When asked about how fun it's been to watch Sid reach 1,000 points, Geno joked that it'd been a long time now and hoped it would happen the next game.[37]
  • They have a special handshake that they do before each game.[38]

Media Edit

Quotes Edit

Articles Edit

Stats Edit

  • On Tuesday 25 October 2016, Malkin assisted on Crosby's power-play goal. It was Crosby's first of the season after having suffered a concussion in a pre-season practice. The tally was the 87th time Malkin assisted on a Crosby goal.[39]
  • On Tuesday 27 December 2016, Crosby assisted on Malkin's 800th NHL point.
  • On Friday 14 April, Sidney Crosby assisted on an Evgeni Malkin even-strength goal. It was the first time Crosby assisted on a Malkin goal 5v5 in the playoffs at home.

References Edit

  13. Since the 2006-2007 season up until 20 Feb 2017, the Pittsburgh Penguins have scored a total of 2579 goals - 193 of which makes 7.5%.
  35. (NHL Revealed, a Season Like No Other part 4)
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