(Purrgeron note: We're seeing Jon get killed for this on Twitter. You can ask his wife how inarticulate he is at home. Basic point: We wonder if Crosby had too much pressure too young and now it's all catching up to him. Now continue to abuse Jon. It's HILARIOUS)
I have been a long time Crosby defender. I've argued viciously against Crosby being a whiner or a diver. I argued that the reputation was gained from Crosby's early years and had stuck with him.
Think about it for a minute. Crosby was an 18-year old kid who was openly expected to save a franchise. He shouldered the fate and hopes of an entire city. Then the league shoved him down our throats while openly calling him a savior. That is a TON of pressure for a kid that young.
What were you doing when you were 18? Getting drunk every night? Crying because your boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with you and you'll never find another one like him/her?!? Getting high and playing Mario Brothers? Skinny dipping in Robb's pool on a dare?
Whatever it is you were doing, I'd bet you didn't even have a fraction of the pressure Crosby had.
So maybe it can be expected that a kid that young would whine to the refs or dive to buy a call. He hadn't matured. He hadn't had time to learn from the veterans yet.
And that is what I would argue. That when he was young and immature he cried a lot and that he built a reputation and got saddled with a label even as he matured and his game evolved. Labels like whiner or diver are hard to shake.
But what the 2012 Flyers series and especially the 2013 Bruins series have shown me is that while Crosby has certainly evolved his game to ridiculous heights, he is anything but mature and certainly not a fit leader.
For those of you who haven't heard, Crosby, through his agent, apparently released a video a full two weeks after Game 1 of Chara supposedly punching Crosby in the jaw.
Crosby, again through his agent, is claiming that Chara was trying to re-injure Crosby and there was malicious intent behind said punch. Here is the video that was released by Crosby's camp. Notice that they took the time to edit it and slow it down so the "punch" looks way more brutal than it really was (video courtesy of The Pensblog):
So many things wrong with this. First, why were Crosby or anyone in his camp searching for this for two weeks? The series is over. You lost. Let it go. Why are you still crying about this? There was literally nothing to gain by Crosby releasing this. This in no way affected the out come of the series. Crosby was fine and continued to not score.
Second, if Crosby is at such great risk of his jaw being re-injured, why did he remove the jaw shield from his mask? If his jaw is still that fragile, common sense dictates that in a sport like hockey you should probably keep that shield on.
Third, and perhaps a big indicator of why a Crosby led team has collapsed in hilarious fashion the past two seasons, Crosby released the video through his agent. Through a safety net. Just like when he went after Chara with two refs between them.
We get it. Chara is big. HUGE. Sure, Crosby shouldn't be fighting him. So why try Sidney? We understand that a Captain of a team should speak up when he feels his team has been wrong but Crosby went about it in a completely asinine way. You shouldn't have been on the ice after the second period bitching at Chara. You should've been in your locker room rallying your troops and trying to get your shit together.
Now he's hiding behind his agent? Like when he hid behind the refs while trying to act tough against Chara? If you have an issue be a man and release it yourself. Speak up yourself. But no, Crosby wanted the protection of releasing it through a third party.
Is that what a leader does? Hide behind a curtain so people can't get to him? If this was such a big deal to him, why didn't he bring it up during the series? Instead Crosby is sitting there like a two year old boy throwing a temper tantrum until he gets what he wants. That is not what a leader does. A leader doesn't cry, via his agent no less, a leader goes out and battles.
Crosby's intent seemed to be to demonize Chara. To show the world that the big, awful brute was super mean to him!
But like the entire Eastern Conference Finals, you misfired Sidney. Your actions provided definitive proof of why that "C" should be stripped from your jersey.
What this video doesn't show you is that Crosby actually started this whole scene by grabbing Chara by the back of the neck. Chara was engaged in a little shoving match with Morrow and Crosby grabs Chara from behind. Chara then pushes Crosby away. He does not wind up and deck Crosby Mike Tyson style like Crosby's video would indicate. There was nothing malicious. Here is the video at normal speed (thanks to Twitter pal @dafoomie):
Crosby wouldn't let go of Chara, so Chara shoved him and there was contact at Crosby's jaw. Chara is a man beast. If he actually wound up and punched Crosby, Crosby would've hit the ice. Instead you see Crosby's head do what any head would do when pushed: it simply moved back with the rest of his body. There was no blood. No red mark. Crosby didn't even change his facial expression. Generally a punch from anyone, never mind Chara, would cause a person to at least change their facial expression.
Crosby spent more time crying and whining than actually trying to win, and the rest of his team followed that action. That is a big reason the Penguins got swept. You can obviously point to Marc Sievedre Fleury for a big reason the Penguins collapsed in grand fashion in two consecutive years but Crosby's lack of leadership is perhaps a bigger reason and is an attitude that seems to be the underlying culture of the Penguins.
Look at guys like Bergeron and Thornton in these playoffs. When other teams take cheap shots, do they go cry to the refs? Do they release videos that don't show the whole picture in an attempt to villainize another player? No. They lead by making PLAYS.
Bergeron will win a big face off or be a beast on the penalty kill. Thornton will go out an throw a huge hit or pepper a goalie with shots. That is how leaders respond.
Crosby has the skill to take over games. Instead of trying to hurt the Bruins on the scoreboard like he certainly could, his game drowned in his own tears. When Boston's defense frustrated him, he didn't keep trying to plow through. He whined.
I was such a big Crosby fan before watching him in these last few playoffs. I loved watching him. But now I feel like a kid when he finds out Santa isn't real. What Crosby has shown himself to be is a whiny, sniveling, self centered cry baby who throws a temper tantrum when he doesn't get what he wants or when things don't go his way.
Maybe having people tell him how great he is his entire life has clouded him judgment. Maybe he bought into his own hype and the hype surrounding his team. People thought the Penguins were going to be the next great NHL dynasty. They said Crosby was going to single handedly lead the Penguins to Cup after Cup.
And maybe if Crosby chose the high road he could've done just that. But now when things are hard Crosby doesn't take the game over like a person with his talent could. Like a leader should. Instead he resorts to mental breakdowns and childish antics. And as you saw against the Bruins, his team then followed.
Now there are rumors that the reason Fleury won't be bought out/traded is because Crosby told management he didn't want Fleury to go. I never would've believed that rumor two years ago? Now? Well, now I can definitely see Crosby running to management and crying and yelling until they promise not to throw out his favorite teddy bear, no matter how old, dirty and useless that bear is now.
Maybe Crosby needs to grow up and move out of Lemieux's house. Maybe the Penguins need a bigger veteran presence, someone who can get Crosby back in line. But whether Crosby's talent and power caused his mental downfall or he just never really matured, he is no leader. He has proven that time and time again over the past few season.
Is Crosby still the best player on the planet? Hands down, yes. There are 29 other NHL teams that would kill to have him, despite what their fan bases may say. That shouldn't even be an argument.
But is he a great leader? Hell, he's not even a good leader. And until he learns some humility and some composure he doesn't deserve that "C" on his jersey. And Penguins fans shouldn't get excited about another Cup while they have a "leader" who would rather hide when things get rough than lead his men into the trenches.