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Mike Babcock: ‘I evaluate Sidney Crosby on winning’

Feb 17, 2014, 2:30 AM EDT

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 7 - Canada v Austria Getty Images

Sidney Crosby has yet to score a goal in these Olympics. You can imagine the horror this appears to be creating north of the border.

So far, the tangible results Crosby has put forward in Sochi amounts to a pair of assists. On the outside, it might seem like so little because he’s widely considered the best player in the game, and because of what he did in Vancouver four years ago – scoring the overtime goal in the gold-medal game against the U.S.

Crosby’s coach with Team Canada doesn’t seem overly concerned about a lack of scoring from the captain, who played most of Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win against Finland on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Jamie Benn. (We await word on possible further changes to line combinations and starting goalies.)

“Everyone evaluates Sid on scoring and I evaluate Sid on winning,” said Canada’s head coach Mike Babcock, as per Sportsnet.ca.

Canada has advanced to the quarter-final stage of the tournament, and will play either Switzerland or Latvia in that game. The winner of the quarter-final advances to the semifinal and a possible – emphasis on possible – date with the U.S.

Yet there is hardly a level of satisfaction in Canada, or with the nation’s media. Canada went 3-0 in the preliminary round, outscoring the opposition 11-2. Two of those wins came against lesser opponents, in Norway and Austria.

And don’t forget the expectations on this team, which is looking to become the first nation in the men’s hockey competition to successfully defend the gold since NHL players began competing at the Olympics in 1998.

In two of their three contests so far, the Canadians have faced opposing teams keen to try and shut them down, playing a stringent defensive style in hopes of keeping the game as close as possible.

“You definitely have to find ways to get to that net and compete for every inch of the ice out there,” said Crosby, as per the Toronto Sun. “I think that’s just kind of the nature of playing teams who have done that for a long time.”

Judging by external reaction alone, it seems the results to this point have been underwhelming.

And when the offence up front isn’t as dynamic – only five of Canada’s 11 goals have come from forwards – as one would think with a roster that includes the likes of Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and Matt Duchene and John Tavares, the criticism starts to come out.

“No one ever seems to be happy with us,” said Babcock.

  1. ethanmacleod1685 - Feb 17, 2014 at 2:47 AM

    He’s a big time player that will show up for big time games. However, he needs to show up sooner or later because Team Canada will only go as far as Crosby takes them. Still think this is Team USA’s tournament to lose.

    • kaptaanamerica - Feb 17, 2014 at 5:24 AM

      Crosby shouldn’t get any special consideration.if the idiots running team Canada don’t wake up and play the guys who are going and Canada loses, they should be fired, publicly vilified, etc, etc…. everyone should earn their ice time.

      • ethanmacleod1685 - Feb 17, 2014 at 6:50 AM

        I do somewhat agree with you, however Crosby is their best player. You can’t blame the coach to rely on him when others can’t get it going either. I think he picks it up now, especially now that the games are huge. I think they need to scratch Kunitz permanently, he’s out of his depth, especially on the big ice.

    • pastabelly - Feb 17, 2014 at 7:22 AM

      Which of the four games did he show up for in the East Conference Finals last year? There were four of them as I recall.

      • c9castine - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:27 PM

        still holding onto that one series huh

      • pastabelly - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:22 PM

        Olympics and East Finals are the last seven big games Crosby has played in and he has nothing to show for any of them.

  2. 19to77 - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:01 AM

    Crosby has yet to really show up in this tournament. When one considers that he’s competing for ice time against guys like Tavares, Toews and Getzlaf he honestly isn’t earning his ice time on this team. He’s been underwhelming and Kunitz has been abysmal. Hard to watch and not wonder if things would have been different with, say, Giroux.

    • hockey412 - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:16 AM

      Crosby’s played like a beast – hasn’t shown on the scorecard, but I think that Babcock’s point is that only seems to matter to the press and fans that really don’t know jack. Canada has won every game they’ve played…and it’s a team game. I could understand all the criticism if Canada, oh I don’t know, actually LOST a game. It just sounds so stupid.

      • 19to77 - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:59 AM

        Canada has struggled to overcome a series of scrubs that the real contenders for gold just wiped out in the path to the elimination round. Yes, yes, Canada won the games, but once you’re done all your unjustified back-patting, we have a date with the U.S. and if we survive that, a gold medal game against either Russia or Sweden. The criticism comes from the fact that once we come up against a legit contender, we’re no more likely to win than lose. The other Big Four teams are so far, better than we are.

      • hockey412 - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:08 AM

        I will certainly listen to your criticism when that happens. Crosby handed Canada a lot of pride four years ago – to see supposed “fans” say he hasn’t earned his ice time is sickening.

      • 19to77 - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:18 AM

        Try watching one of the current ones. The year is 2014 now. Try to keep up. What players did four years ago is irrelevant. What matters is who does or doesn’t show up right now. Thus far, Kunitz has been worthless and Crosby underwhelming at best. Not even a golden goal scorer can just coast on past glories. He’s supposedly the best offensive catalyst in all of hockey. One would hope for a bit of evidence of that in these Olympic Games.

      • hockey412 - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:32 AM

        I’ve watched the current games. I thought he played like a beast against Finland especially. You clearly did not, I’d imagine you don’t care for Crosby anyway, or Kunitz. Take Grabner to start your team? You clearly know what you are talking about – none of this is an attempt at an anti-Crosby campaign, to be certain. Babcock is clearly unreasonable in his opinion also – because let’s be honest what more could he possibly know than you?

      • narfmoo12 - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:50 AM

        Of course Babcock isn’t going to say that Crosby has sucked through the first three games and needs to get his act together. I’m sure his honest opinion is far from what he is saying.

      • c9castine - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:29 PM

        nobody has scored a goal on canada while crosby has been on the ice. in a tournament like this with canadas depth, you sacrifice your best players to play against the other teams best players and let your depth take over.

        think about it, thats why the american lines are set the way they are, with the pavelski line not even the top line.

  3. rushledger - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:02 AM

    Crosby is nothing short of phenomenal but this is a team game, especially the Olympics. He’s not the only forward not lighting the Lamp.

  4. 13datsyuk13 - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:28 AM

    You could easily write this article about Patrick Kane.

    • hockey412 - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:17 AM

      Or anyone not named Datsyuk.

      • hockey412 - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:28 AM

        Before anyone freaks out, I’ll amend to say “or Grabner, or Carter, or Doughty, or Kessel”, etc etc.

    • hawksin5 - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      @datsyuk actually no you can’t…. have u been watching the US games? he has set up a lot of plays and played unbelievable well. yes he has not been scoring, but he’s been a huge contributor. PLUS- kane isn’t a crosby, and kane has been playing on the second line…… with dustin brown….

  5. nothanksimdriving123 - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:31 AM

    How hard would I laugh if he scores only one goal in the whole tournament, yeah, in OT in the Final? (Really hard.)

    • 19to77 - Feb 17, 2014 at 5:10 AM

      Not as hard as I’ll laugh if he doesn’t score any. Seems more likely a bet with every mediocre game he mails in.

  6. joewilliesshnoz - Feb 17, 2014 at 5:36 AM

    I don’t care if he just runs the Zamboni, he’s still the best player in the game.

    • 19to77 - Feb 17, 2014 at 7:49 AM

      Might help make his case if Crosby could do something to prove it. So far, it’s been the usual narrative regurgitation about how great he is and nothing to actually back it up. He’s barely existed in in this tournament, as has the undeserving, dead-weight Kunitz they dragged along to make him happy. Between Kunitz and Crosby we have two assists, no goals. How far will Team Canada go to appease them purely on the basis of Crosby’s name? Apparently the best playmaker in the entire world can’t even drive a scoring line when you gift him wingers he knows from his own team. So what are we doing, coddling him? If he’s not producing, give Getzlaf or Tavares a longer look. If Crosby’s production can’t compete with them, he doesn’t deserve their ice time.

      • hockey412 - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:31 AM

        THEY ARE UNDEFEATED…THAT MEANS THEY HAVEN’T LOST. They haven’t lost BECAUSE of the people they decided to put on the ice…see the connection there? Crosby has NOT played bad…nor has Kunitz. It just hasn’t translated to points – sometimes, it just doesn’t.

        Starting a team, would you want Crosby, or Grabner? Because by your logic, Grabner would be your obvious choice, correct?

      • 19to77 - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:41 AM

        Yes, yes. Capslock makes you more right, I’m sure. Loud noises. That’s very convincing to 10-year olds.

        Right now I’d take Grabner. Ride the hot streak and go with the guy who’s clearly benefitting from the big ice as opposed to imploding. And you know what Grabbo would get me? Points on the board. I’ll take a guy whose production makes him look like he belongs on the big ice over a celebrity name who’s clearly out of his depth. Every time. Pick the best players for the circumstances at hand – that may exclude the actual on-paper best overall players sometimes.

      • jpelle82 - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:20 AM

        tavares is invisible, why would they give him anything?

      • comeonnowguys - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        @19

        It’s even better when they use caps lock to say something that everybody already knows as fact.

        OMG WATER IS WET, GUYS.

  7. puregreed - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    Its not creating any horror in the central part of Canada, here were just 3-0 and in a better position than in Vancouver. Happy with our defense, Go Canada, it’s gonna be fun.

  8. 19to77 - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:26 AM

    The Canadian insecurity complex is rich. Every time I post something remotely critical of Crosby it kicks off a witch hunt. No, no, it’s not his fault! Nothing is ever Sidney Crosby’s fault! He’s perfect, in spite of his straight-up humiliating inability to score. How dare you call attention to mediocre play from one of our beloved superstars!

    It’s cute, but all the downvotes in the world won’t erase the two assists and zero goals he’s produced so far. Get over it: he’s underwhelmed so far, and hard. All your nationalistic, disingenuous, fictive nonsense aside, Crosby’s not really done much.

    • jimeejohnson - Feb 17, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      Liar.

    • hockey412 - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      I think the fact that you think anyone disagreeing with your tainted anti-Crosby soap-box rant sure must be Canadian is rich.

  9. comeonnowguys - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    Sorry, Babcock, but that’s crap.

    Whenever the argument gets to Crosby, people throw out numbers to back up his play. Heck, they used his numbers as an argument when the captain talk came up.

    Now when he isn’t scoring, it’s his “intangibles?” Let’s not forget he wasn’t even the best forward in 2010 for Canada.

    • hockey412 - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      I think you have your crap backwards.

      • comeonnowguys - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:27 PM

        Nope. Clean bill of health from the doc.

      • comeonnowguys - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        I’m not the thumb-down, FYI.

  10. jpelle82 - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    its sidney crosby, all of this comes with the territory. if he doesnt score its the headline of the day but when a guy like tavares doesnt (0 pts!) no one says a thing. i’m sure crosby isnt worried, just like his coach isnt. he’s still drawing the best defensive pair every shift and soaking up the minutes from them allowing others to capitalize against the weaker matchups. what’s tavares’ excuse?

    • hockey412 - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      He’s got 2 points in 3 games. Not great for him…but Malkin’s got 3 in 3, and he’s the Russian leading scorer. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

  11. florida76 - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    The great players don’t always have to put up big numbers to win. Crosby won a Stanley Cup faster than Gretzky, and played well in that Final, despite sustaining a knee injury in Game 7 at Detroit. Crosby’s performance was noted by Mike Babcock at the time, people who understand hockey and sports in general, understand winning is the main objective.

  12. narfmoo12 - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    1. For all of you saying how Crosby is a “winner” … He hasn’t won anything since the 2010 Olympics.

    2. For all of you saying he shows up in big games… Since the Stanley Cup finals in 2009 (yes, the year the Penguins won the cup), Crosby has 1 goal, 2 assists, and is -5 in his last 7 elimination games, and all of three of those points came in game 4 against Philly when they were down 3-0 in the series:

    Elimination game – G/A/+-
    *Game 4 vs Boston – 0/0/0
    *Game 6 vs Philly – 0/0/-3
    *Game 5 vs Philly – 0/0/0
    *Game 4 vs Philly – 1/2/+1
    *Game 7 vs Montreal – 0/0/-2
    *Game 7 vs Detroit – 0/0/0
    *Game 6 vs Detroit – 0/0-1

    You Pittsburgh fans and Team Canada fans can click thumbs down all you want, but Crosby is literally the Peyton Manning of the NHL.

    • shaundre93 - Feb 17, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      I’m not even a Crosby basher but those numbers are eye openers. He has been pretty underwhelming in the playoffs recently and let’s not forget, Malkin won MVP when they won the cup. I personally think its his line mates. When you really only have to worry about one of the three forwards on the ice, it can’t be that hard to shut the one down. Lets be real, without Crosby, Dupuis might not even be in the NHL and Kunitz would be a 20G 2nd/3rd line tweener. If he ever had decent line mates (almost had ovechkin instead of Malkin… Imagine that!) I think it would be a different story

  13. acieu - Feb 17, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    I think the reporter misquoted Babcock. He actually said I evaluate Crosby “on his whining” Just to correct the quote. One you understand the correct quote It is easy to understand why he plays.

  14. jpelle82 - Feb 17, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    toews, tavares, bergeron, crosby – all centers with 0 goals. getzlaf is the only center with one and tavares has been playing wing so i dont know if i should even count him here. aside from the overall lack of goals from the forwards in general…does anyone think that maybe these guys have just embraced their defensive center responsibilities a little bit more than usual? might be one explanation. i would be pointing the finger a little bit more at the wings. aside from carter – jamie benn is the only one who has one and he’s been invisible since. kunitz was owned by rask’s glove in the 1st period of the finland game and barely touched the puck after that. st louis hit the goalie in the chest with his only chance on a pass from crosby and then wilted after that in the norway game. sharp played all of 6 mins in each of the games he was dressed. duchene hasnt really played either. nash is a loaf. perry has been solid throughout despite not scoring, carter had that hat trick game which seems to be just an anomaly, marleau looked good through 2 games. everyone else could use a swift kick in the pants. the real story is the defense for canada and their all out domination in all 3 zones.

    • imgoingtowichita - Feb 18, 2014 at 5:14 PM

      Tavares hasn’t played one shift on wing yet. Your hateon for him is clouding your vision of the television.

  15. vm113 - Feb 17, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    “Everyone evaluates Sid on scoring and I evaluate Sid on winning,”—Winning what, face-offs? Because unless he’s Darren Helm defensively he’s not helping you do much “winning” with 0 points. What a biased thing for Babcock to say. That’s some real Canadian on Canadian love.

    • jimeejohnson - Feb 17, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      Intangibles are too much for guys like you to consider.

      • narfmoo12 - Feb 17, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        No, intangibles are what you talk about when you don’t have actual facts or statistics to back up your argument, but still want to argue that your viewpoint is correct.

      • comeonnowguys - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:13 PM

        From this thread it sounds more like intangibles are ignored in the Crosby vs. Toews captaincy debate is made, but clung to desperately when Crosby underwhelms statistically.

      • narfmoo12 - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        That’s Penguins fans for ya! Toews has lifted the Stanley Cup twice since Crosby scored a meaninful goal, but that’s not important to them.

      • 19to77 - Feb 17, 2014 at 5:04 PM

        Alright, jimee, evaluate his intangibles for us. Put your money where your mouth is. What intangibles does Crosby bring to the table? Take your time. I’ll wait.

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