Dan Bylsma: Sidney Crosby is not the world's best hockey player -- but he is the smartest

Sidney Crosby makes challenging plays look simple, but the reality is that they've been honed over many reps. Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Note: The following was excerpted from this week's episode of the ESPN On Ice podcast. Subscribe now, and check out the archives here.

Dan Bylsma still marvels at Sidney Crosby's processing power.

He coached Crosby with the Pittsburgh Penguins for six seasons, winning the Stanley Cup with in him 2009. During that span, he watched a naturally gifted hockey player become the best of his generation through his work ethic and aptitude for the game.

When Crosby struggled on faceoffs, he taught himself how to master them. Same thing with his shot quality. On the bench during games, Crosby will break down his own shifts to see how to improve them.

"Sid is not the best hockey player in the world, skill-wise. He has an unbelievable ability to take a situation, analyze it, work on it in a very small sample size and improve drastically. So if he sees a play on TV the night before, and he's like, 'we should do this,' he'll go and practice it 10 times and he's got it," said Bylsma on the ESPN On Ice podcast this week.

"We talk about faceoffs and what he did with faceoffs. We talk about his shot, what he did with his shot. But there was an instance where the puck hit the end boards, and he was near the side of the net, and it came out and he had a chance to score and he missed it. The next day, he was out getting pucks to go off the end boards, to that area and he'd make a play. He did 15 pucks and he's got it."

Bylsma said the moves that we take for granted from Crosby have been honed and refined through practice.

"We've seen him tip behind his back and score goals, and it's amazing. But it's not amazing. I'd see him do it every day. He doesn't do 100 of them. He does five every day, and he's got it," he said.