In a moment that will be etched in the annals of NHL history, Connor Bedard, the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, stood face-to-face with his childhood idol, Sidney Crosby, at center ice on Tuesday. The faceoff marked the start of the Blackhawks-Penguins season opener, and Bedard’s first seconds of regular-season action in the NHL.
Getty Images photographer Joe Sargent captured an incredible shot of the two players lining up before the faceoff. This is one for the history books:
There aren't too many times in sports where we get to see legends face future stars like Sidney Crosby vs. Connor Bedard.
This is one of those times. pic.twitter.com/fnyTVHU0xT
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) October 11, 2023
The PPG Paints Arena was buzzing with anticipation as the two players, representing different generations of hockey, prepared for the faceoff. The referee greeted Crosby with a “welcome back” and then turned to Bedard with a “welcome to the NHL” before dropping the puck.
Whether it's year 19 or year 1, opening night is special all the same. pic.twitter.com/5CGoUbPNzJ
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 11, 2023
Crosby, the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, has been the face of the NHL for almost two decades. He has 1,502 points (550 goals, 952 assists) in 1,190 NHL games with Pittsburgh and has led the Penguins to three Stanley Cup victories. On the other hand, Bedard, who led the Western Hockey League in goals (71), points (143), shots on goal (360), points per game (2.51), and goals per game (1.25) in 57 regular-season games with Regina last season, is seen as the future of the NHL.
The faceoff was a symbolic passing of the torch from one generation to the next. Crosby, the seasoned veteran, won the faceoff against Bedard, the 18-year-old rookie, handing him his very first NHL face-off loss. But this moment was more than just a game opener; it was a rite of passage for Bedard, who has been compared to Crosby and other hockey legends.
The faceoff was a testament to the cyclical nature of sports, where new talents rise to take the place of the old. It was a moment of respect, a moment of anticipation, and above all, a moment of celebration for the sport of hockey. As Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said, “These two guys are for all intents and purposes, part of the face of the NHL. That’s a great narrative, it’s one that should be celebrated”.
The faceoff between Bedard and Crosby was not just a game opener; it was a snapshot of the past, present, and future of the NHL. It was a moment that reminded us of the beauty of sports, where legends inspire the next generation of stars. And as the puck dropped, the NHL welcomed its newest star, Connor Bedard, into its fold.