If Flyers lose to Penguins in 5OT classic, would Sidney Crosby still be No. 1 Philly Sports Villain?


Sidney Crosby was voted by fans as the No. 1 Philly Sports Villain in NBC Sports Philadelphia's recent series debating the city's most all-time disliked figures among the four major teams.

That shouldn't come as a massive surprise.

Crosby has tortured Flyers fans in a heated rivalry stemming back to 2005. There’s something about the way in which he plays (and wins) that has never jived with this city. After all, the Penguins' star has kicked the Flyers out of the playoffs three times and has won three Stanley Cup titles in Pittsburgh while the orange and black continue to look for their first championship since 1975. Crosby has also scored more goals (43) against the Flyers than he has against any other team and owns 105 points in 70 career regular-season dates with his rival.

No. 87's villain résumé checks all the boxes in this town.

When the Flyers duked it out with the Penguins in the five-overtime classic during the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals, Crosby was only 12 years old. But the outcome of the Marathon on Ice, a 2-1 victory for the Flyers completed in just under seven hours at 2:35 a.m. ET, could have played a role in Crosby's eventual arrival to Pittsburgh, which we detailed in the Sports Uncovered: Marathon on Ice podcast.

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The Flyers' historic Game 4 win was a series-swinging result. If the Penguins had won, they would have taken a commanding 3-1 series lead. Instead, the Flyers evened the series, seized the momentum and went on to win the next two games to finish off Pittsburgh.

How would history have changed if the Penguins won Game 4? It's highly possible they would have won the series, pushing them one step closer to the Stanley Cup Final. If Pittsburgh made a run to the Cup, how different would the 2000-01 season had been? Would the Penguins had still traded the back-to-back-to-back-to-back Art Ross Trophy winner Jaromir Jagr in the summer of 2001?

It makes you wonder, from a Flyers perspective, too. Because after losing to the Flyers in 2000, then falling short in the 2001 Eastern Conference Final (despite the return of Mario Lemieux) and trading Jagr that summer, Pittsburgh was one of the worst teams in hockey over the next three seasons.

As a result, it landed Marc-Andre Fleury first overall in the 2003 draft, Evgeni Malkin second overall in 2004 and Crosby first overall in 2005. The trio helped lead the Penguins to championships in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

However, Pittsburgh's path very well could have stayed the same if the Penguins had beaten the Flyers in the 2000 five-overtime game and series. There's a good possibility Pittsburgh still would have lost to the Devils in the 2000 Eastern Conference Final. Martin Brodeur and New Jersey won the Cup that season and also rolled through the Penguins in the 2001 Eastern Conference Final, which gave way to the inevitable, franchise-shifting Jagr trade.

The Flyers' five-overtime win will go down in the history books. If the Penguins came out on the right side of history, good chance Crosby still finds his way to Pittsburgh and becomes the No. 1 Philly Sports Villain. The Flyers outlasted the Penguins that night of May 4, 2000, so we'll never know.

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