Needless to say, Sidney Crosby IS the core but, his next contract, expected to be made official Sunday afternoon, assures that he might never leave Pittsburgh.

According to various and numerous media outlets, Crosby and the Penguins have worked out an agreement to pay him $104.4 million over 12 years.

Do the math, kids. That’s $8.7 million per year on average — the exact same average of his current contract.

With the salary cap set at just over $70 million, Crosby was eligible to earn as much as $14 million per season. He’s taken more than $5 million less than that. To put it in other terms, he left James Neal’s annual salary on the table.

To say he took paycut to stay in Pittsburgh is akin to saying he is a good hockey player.

And that’s why Crosby is so respected by his teammates and peers. He knows he could make as much as he wants, but with his endorsements added to the mix, he’s already a rich man who doesn’t need more money.

Instead, he wants to win. And with $5 million extra to spend, the Penguins have the opportunity to retain a supporting cast around Crosby that includes league MVP Evgeni Malkin, All Star sniper James Neal, top flight defender Kris Letang, and Stanley Cup winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

And as of Sunday, possibly good buddy and All Star Zach Parise.

Put it this way. While Crosby’s new contract won’t kick in until the 2013-14 season, it has ramifications that will impact the roster this season and down the line.

For starters, a bid to sign Parise will have to include significant term and dollars. The money and cap space are there for this coming season, but had Crosby taken more money per year, it likely wouldn’t be there beyond this season. No money means no Parise. While it’s no sure-shot he’ll be a Penguin, the door is wide open for him to enter.

It also set s a precedent that the team comes first, that each individual must sacrifice in order to win.

Crosby has shown that, despite being the top player in the game, he cares more about the logo on the front of his jersey than the name on the back.

It will serve as a good example for Malkin, as he enters contract negotiations with the Penguins next year at this time. Letang will take a cue, as well.

That’s how the core is sustained and dynasties are built.