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Crosby contract extension announced before free agency...for a reason

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The breaking news that Sidney Crosby has agreed to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins for a twelve year contract extension, is not that surprising. Make no mistake about the timing though.

Due to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the deal can't be signed and official until July 1st. The day free agency starts. So why all the reports on twitter, confirmed by Crosby's agent and the team itself? This is a message to the free agents, most notably the two prizes on the market Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

It says, point blank, if you come to Pittsburgh, Crosby will be here for the entirity of your stay. And so long as you have Sidney Crosby on your team, you know management will be attempting to field a competitive team with the realisitic goal of making a play to chase down the Stanley Cup year after year. This is serious business.

And, the same $8.7 million salary also a warning shot too. Yesterday Washington traded impending free agent Dennis Wideman to Calgary, who signed the defenseman to a 5 year, $5.25 million contract...Per season. Free agency always inflates value, so it's frightening to think of the staggering offers that better players like Suter and Parise are about to have tossed their way. The message here being: Pittsburgh's obviously setting the bar here, and players have to take a little less to fill out the team and better compete.

Obviously, not everyone's going to make the big sacrifice and commitment that Crosby just did for the Pens by locking in the prime years of his career at (currently) $5.3 million under the maximum salary...But it shows that here, in this town, there is a commitment starting with the captain to winning and a team-first mentality.

On Sunday, probably shortly after noon, we'll see if guys like Parise and Suter are also interested in such a commitment.