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Crosby signs $104.4M long-term contract extension with Penguins

Sidney Crosby’s superstitious nature appears to have worked in favour of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

While the US$104.4-million, 12-year extension he agreed to on Thursday is clearly a massive deal, the NHL’s most recognizable player could certainly have fetched more. His new contract will carry the exact same $8.7-million annual cap hit as his current one.

“He’s a very special player and knowing that he will be here long-term is outstanding news for our players, coaches, staff and fans,” said Penguins GM Ray Shero. “Sidney also brings those extra dimensions as our captain, with his leadership in the room and on the ice. We’re all very excited to reach this agreement on an extension.”

Born Aug. 7, 1987 — 8/7/87 — Crosby has long been drawn to those numbers. He’s the only NHL player who wears No. 87 on his sweater and if he plays through the end of the extension, he will have enjoyed 17 seasons with an $8.7-million salary cap hit.

It remains to be seen whether he’ll see the end of that deal. Agent Pat Brisson of CAA Sports acknowledged Thursday that the contract was structured to pay more at the the front end.

Either way, it likely ensures Crosby will spend his entire career in a Penguins sweater, something co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle have made a priority.

“This is a great day for hockey and tremendous news for the Pittsburgh Penguins and our fans,” the pair said in a release. “We are grateful for all that Sidney Crosby has done for our franchise since coming to Pittsburgh in 2005, both on and off the ice, and we look forward to having him in a Penguins uniform for the rest of his career.”

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the extension can’t officially be signed Sunday. It comes into effect for the 2013-14 season.

Crosby could have asked for the league maximum of roughly $14 million per season, but instead decided to remain the NHL’s second-highest paid player. Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin earns an average of $9.53 million while Crosby and teammate Evgeni Malkin each get $8.7 million.

However, by signing for less than market value, he left the Penguins in a good position to make a strong pitch for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter when free agency opens on Sunday.

Despite playing a total of 69 games over the last two seasons because of concussion problems and a neck injury, Crosby is still considered the top player in the game. He had two points or more in 13 of the 22 regular-season games he appeared in last season — finishing the year with a total of 37 points.

Since entering the NHL in 2005, Crosby has averaged a league-best 1.4 points per game — Ovechkin and Malkin are next best at 1.23 — while packing his trophy cabinet with hardware. He has a Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, Rocket Richard Trophy and Art Ross Trophy.

Crosby also became the youngest captain in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup in 2009 and scored the golden goal that lifted Team Canada to victory at the 2010 Olympics.