Many Fans Believe NHL Rigged 2005 NHL Draft To Gift Sidney Crosby to Pittsburgh Penguins

Published on March 30th, 2024 3:00 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Sidney Crosby saves Pittsburgh Steelers. It was 2005, and the Pittsburgh Penguins were struggling mightily.

The club had just left bankruptcy, but a lengthy season-long NHL work stoppage in 2004 and the lack of a new arena left the team on still-shaky ground.

While the club would benefit from the newly signed CBA, the team desperately needed more revenue in order to survive.

In fact, there was talk of moving the team to Kansas City.


With Mario Lemieux's storied career drawing to a close, the prospects for a hockey revival in Pittsburgh seemed dim.

There was one person that might save the team - Sidney Crosby.

Sidney Crosby was one of the most highly touted prospects to come along since Mario Lemieux.

Crosby had dominated in his second year in the QMJHL, notching 168 points in 62 games. These were Mario Lemieux-esque numbers - Crosby was clearly a special player.

Due to the work stoppage, all of the team in the NHL had at least a chance of winning the lottery and winning the "Sidney Crosby sweepstakes".

There were a total of 48 lottery balls, with all of the NHL's teams being guaranteed at least one ball.

Four teams - the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins - had three balls.

A number of teams - including the Chicago Blackhawks, Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings, to name a few - had two balls.

The Pittsburgh Penguins ended up winning the lottery and drafting Sidney Crosby.


The drafting of Sidney Crosby was transformative for the Penguins, as he was every bit as good as he was billed to be.

As Mario Lemieux faded into retirement, Crosby led the franchise to three Stanley Cups.

More importantly, the addition of Sidney Crosby to the team led to franchise stability, as the Penguins were able to get a new arena built.


NHL conspiracy theorists believe that the NHL rigged the 2005 NHL Draft in order to save the Pittsburgh franchise.

You can't deny that drafting Crosby likely saved the franchise in Pittsburgh, but was it an actual conspiracy?

Those who don't believe in the conspiracy will point to the fact that the NHL likely would have preferred Crosby to land in a big media market like New York or Los Angeles.

Why rig the lottery in favor of the Penguins when New York had the same number of lottery balls?

Or, why wouldn't Gary Bettman have rigged the draft in favor of the Phoenix Coyotes, who he has been championing for decades now?

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