After a decade of dominating the NHL, Sidney Crosby's relatively mortal 2014-15 season -- wherein he only finished third in the scoring race, fifth in Hart trophy voting and his team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs -- raised the question of whether his days as the game's best player were coming to an end.
Given his slow start to the 2015-16 season, it initially appeared that Crosby's torch was finally being passed. But after a midseason coaching change re-ignited his play, Pittsburgh's captain quickly returned to his place as the sport's most dangerous offensive weapon. At year's end, he was named to the first All-Star team, finished runner-up for the Hart trophy, was seventh in Selke voting (his highest finish of his career) and won the Conn Smythe for leading the Penguins to their second Stanley Cup in the Crosby Era.
While last summer's reports of his decline have obviously been proved premature, there's a steep road ahead for Crosby. He will be representing Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey against the best players in the world, then leading the cap-strapped Penguins in a tough race against their Metropolitan division rivals, the Washington Capitals, while fending off the rising success of younger talents like Edmonton's Connor McDavid in his quest for a third league scoring title. Can he stay on top for one more season?