Questioning Captain Crosby Leadership

Should Sidney Crosby's leadership be questioned?  (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)
Sidney Crosby’s leadership must come into question after what’s transpired for a 5th straight season. (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)

The last 48 hours have me questioning Sidney Crosby and his leadership skills as captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Why? Well, as the captain said yeaterday:

“There’s a lot of questions and a lot of things being talked about.”

Now, I never expected Crosby to give speeches in the Penguins’ locker-room, or to be a vocal cheerleader. But I was of the belief that he was a blue-collar work horse who led by example on and off the ice.

My opinion was completely altered after reading an article by Rob Rossi on Wednesday. Rossi was told by Penguins’ sources:

“Crosby and Malkin grew disenchanted with perceived harsh criticism they received from Bylsma during meetings, the sources said. They and other veteran players were unhappy with Bylsma’s numerous meetings and long practices and the decreasing sense of fun within the Penguins’ environment, the sources said.”

Reports say that Sidney Crosby was upset with Dan Bylsma's coaching on and off the ice. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)
Sidney Crosby was caught having an animated discussion with Dan Bylsma against the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Did Crosby want to play Sharks and Minnows every practice?

As the perceived leader of his team and always hearing about his top-notch work ethic, I thought Crosby would’ve endorsed long practices. That he’d accept constructive criticism from his coach. But he seems to favor a country club environment.

When asked whether there was any tension between he and Dan Bylsma, Crosby answered, “No.”

“You’re going to hear a lot of that stuff and a lot of negativity and a lot of different rumors,” Crosby said. “That’s normal. When you lose, people are always looking for reasons. But there wasn’t that.”

If there wasn’t a problem with the coach, why did Crosby score one goal in 13 playoff games? Why did he go pointless against the New York Rangers in the final three games of the series?

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was of the opinion that Crosby wasn’t supported enough by his team or organization. While I respect Mr Kovacevic’s opinion, I’m not buying this as an excuse for Crosby. Every team’s top priority is to get under his skin. He should be numb to it.

To prove that he’s not, Crosby relishes in the extracurricular shenanigans after the whistle. What’s worse is that he doesn’t seem to believe it’s an issue.

“I think if you watch the games and see when that stuff happened, it’s probably in games where the score is out of hand and I probably feel that I can whack a guy back and it’s not going to have an influence in the game. When you lose you have to answer questions. I don’t feel like I was off my game. I like to play hard. For every shot I take, I think giving a shot back once in awhile is okay. It’s the playoffs.”

So when the Penguins were down 3-1 at the end of second period in Game 6, the game was over in Crosby’s mind? Rather than spearing Dominic Moore in the groin, Crosby may have attempted to lead his team back from a two-goal deficit. Something in particular that teams have found very obtainable this post-season.

Sidney Crosby must put aside all distractions to better perform in the post-season. (Photo by Andy Martin Jr.)
Sidney Crosby must put aside distractions to perform at a higher level in the post-season. (Photo by Andy Martin Jr.)

Crosby’s ultimate goal should be putting up points and finding ways to win in the playoffs. But there always seems to be a problem, or an excuse. Crosby plays as if there’s something bothering him but fails to publicly admit it.

“Again I’m not saying that I can’t be better, but I’m not going to answer for being emotional,” Crosby said. “I don’t think that my focus was lost. You can go back to the years that we won, and you’re not going to see anything different.”

Crosby has been known for working on a new weakness every off-season. One year he wanted to work on his shot and scored 32 goals in 40 games the following season. Another summer, Crosby worked on shootouts and dramatically increased his success rate. This summer Crosby can work on becoming a better leader and captain. Until he does, he’s right. “You’re not going to see anything different.”

7 thoughts on “Questioning Captain Crosby Leadership”

  1. Good column Justin. The problem that I see is that Sid is never going to be the vocal leader that we would like to have. He leads by example but when you only score one goal in a playoff season it’s not a real good example. They need a tough gritty guy with good skills who commands the respect of the room a la Bill Guerin, someone not afraid to get in the face of the others and call them out. I don’t know who that is but hopefully the new GM does!

  2. So exactly how many times have you been in the dressing room in between periods? It’s funny how the idiots are so quick to jump on his leadership when it’s obvious to anyone with vision who has watched hockey for as long as I have that there is more to this team’s trouble than 87. Hence why they haven’t won a cup since 09. First off Bob Rossi is a known idiot whose “sources” have often come up wrong in most stories that he’s put up so basing your article off of his isn’t all that smart. Fun atmosphere? Ya I’m sure 87 and 71 wanted pizza parties daily don’t you? Give me a break dude. Instead of looking at the obvious you defer to hack reporting which is the norm these days since anyone who is a glorified fan can just blog. How about looking at the obvious for a minute. That being Therrien was fired in 2008 bc he lost the room and his message went stale. His dictatorship and constant belittlement of players wore thin; hence Hossa going to Det. Then Bylsma comes in and benefits greatly from being a nice guy who just happened to leave Therrien’s defensive system in tact ( mainly bc of Yeo and Fitzgerald) and slightly removed the reins on that were on the forwards and boom they have success.. Then Bylsma creates his own monster as his laid back attitude mixed with holding nobody accountable for mistakes was the norm. Then he fumbles a very very solid roster in 2013 and ownership wants him fired but Shero says no ” Dan’s my coach” and extends him. So in 2014 when Bylsma knows he’s going to fired if they don’t produce he tries to run a dictatorship and actually wants to be a coach instead of their buddy. The only problem with that is that over the last 5 years he did things different and only wanted to change out of desperation. That wouldn’t have worked on my college hockey team either let alone an NHL club.. This FN roster wasn’t going anywhere anyways and anyone who thinks different is a FOOL. What coach in the playoffs holds 4 hour practices and video sessions? Nobody let alone the coach who created the relaxed environment you’re trying to criticize 87 for instilling. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.. How many games did Crosby play in during the 2013-14 season, Olympics, and playoffs? About 100? He played in 78 games after returning from his concussion through the 2013 playoffs.. Do you see a HUGE difference? So I guess now 87 should be absolutely superhuman and instead of resting he should deal with ridiculous practice lengths. Maybe instead of relying on hearing about his ” top notch work ethic” you should get a press pass and check for yourself. When a player is the first to hit the ice and the last to leave that usually shows for itself. But bc a GM failed miserably at drafting and failed to assemble 4 lines of quality NHL players that again is on 87. Since he’s also coached by a buffoon who can’t adapt to playoff hockey and constantly wants to play midgets over grit I guess 87 should grin and bear him being beat on. Give me a break already. The coach failed him and Shero failed him by not insulating him or Malkin. The only difference is that Malkin isn’t 5’11” and absorbs the abuse better. As someone who has a very good friend who works for ROOT and is on tv every Pens game you’re WAY off base.. Maybe you should be doing some reporting on the likes of James Neal and Kris Letang being cancers in that dressing room instead of assuming that bc 87 shows a little emotion after being hit in the head one too many times that he’s the problem. Newsflash even if he were injured he’s not going to admit it. Did Letang come out and tell everyone that he broke his foot and hand in the last 2 games? No

    • First of all no media member is in the dressing room in between periods. Please don’t accuse me of false accusations and then go onto act like you’re in the locker room. Yes I do have passes to games. Crosby has yet to admit his poor play. More than 1 goal in 18 games isn’t too much to ask. Neither is staying out of scrums after the whistle. He isn’t a vocal leader so he needs to lead by example and did not. And I never said 87 was the only problem and I never said he was a cancer in their room. But thanks for reading.

  3. Good stuff Justin! In today’s sports, leading by example only works for a few years. You need that “it” trait the one that sets some guys apart. Crosby doesn’t have it and never will. Sutter’s got it which is why everyone responds to him!

    • Thanks for the kind words Rob. I think the Pens need to find a player elsewhere to help bring everything together bc there seems to be some sort of problem with this team’s urgency in important games.

  4. I don’t expect Crosby to give riveting speeches either. I’ve always seen him as a lead by example type of guy…but I am starting to question that as well.

    I have to take everything written by Rossi with a grain of salt though. He’s often incorrect in his reporting…slightly off topic, but he seems genuinely unlikable.

    • Matt,

      Thanks for the read. I appreciate it. There was a lot of crazy stuff going around yesterday. Everyone had reported that Dan Bylsma was set to get fired and it never happened. So who knows. But thanks for the comment.

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