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Sidney Crosby: ‘Maybe we got away with a bit too much on skill’

Jun 24, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game One Getty Images

Sidney Crosby has opened up, speaking about a season in which the Pittsburgh Penguins fell well short of their ultimate goal – the Stanley Cup.

The Penguins gave up a 3-1 series lead and were knocked out of the playoffs in the second round by an emotionally charged New York Rangers team. Crosby, despite playing well, produced only a goal and three points in that seven-game series.

Evgeni Malkin had only one goal and two points in the final three games of that series.

The premature post-season exit cost Dan Bylsma his job as head coach, and Ray Shero’s job as general manager. Crosby, who denied a disconnect with Bylsma, took his share of the blame, in conversation with Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.

“I think as far as finding that identity, and don’t get me wrong I think in the regular season it’s important to have success and we’ve proven that, but we have to find a way in the playoffs to elevate our game,” said Crosby, as per ESPN.

“It doesn’t mean change our identity, but we have to elevate it. We haven’t done quite as good a job at doing that. Me personally, I’m not taking myself out of that mix either, going pointless against Boston (in the 2013 conference finals) and not really doing a whole lot in the New York series, it’s not easy to deal with that in the off-season. You don’t like having memories like that.

“That being said, you have to find a way to elevate your game. I think for us, each round it gets tougher and tougher, there’s less space, it’s more physical, maybe we got away with a bit too much on skill during the regular season and weren’t able to grind teams down and play the way you see some teams have success in the playoffs. Keeping that in the back of our mind should help us going into next year.”

  1. gbatap - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    I’ll probably get murdered on here by Pens fans for saying this but I don’t think Crosby makes for a great leader. Phenomenal talent but just doesn’t strike me as a leader of men. Those are the types of players the Pens are lacking. Clearly you aren’t going to take the ‘C’ away from the best player on the planet but they need to do something to surround him with guys who will step up on the ice and in the lockerroom.

    • stakex - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:35 AM

      Let them murder you all they want, but that’s a true statement.

      Thing is, true leaders are at their best when the situation is at its worst. When you’re team is down, you have to find a way to inspire them and pick them up. In the Boston series last season, and the Rangers series season this year, Crosby’s attitude on the ice was down right awful. He looked angry, befuddled, and down right frustrated most of the time. Not to mention he spent more time whining to the refs than rallying his team when they were down. That’s not leadership…. that’s acting like a child.

      Now I obviously don’t know what kind of leader he is in the locker room. He might give some great inspirational speeches between periods or something. On the ice however, Crosby’s leadership ability when things aren’t going well is seriously suspect.

      • mikedoc315 - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:43 AM

        You can count the year before last in the series against the Flyers,Crosby truly is one of the best players in hockey but other teams are learning how to get under his skin and throw him off his game. When he’s frustrated and off his game he is only a very good player,a very dangerous one for sure but not the great player he is at times.

    • jkulha86 - Jun 24, 2014 at 7:41 AM

      I’m a Penguin fan and I agree with you. When the Penguins won the cup in 09, Crosby was the Captain, but it was Bill Guerin who was the true leader of the team. Ever since he retired as a player, the team hasn’t been the same.

    • blackandorangeforlife - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      Pretty sure they tried that when they brought in 3 former Captains “Iggy, Murry and Morrow”….Still didnt work!

      • hockey412 - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:21 AM

        It worked in 2009, though. Would you like a comprehensive list of things that didn’t work for the Flyers over the past 39 years, since you’re so into what didn’t work for the Pens in the past 5?

      • blackandorangeforlife - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        Yes i see something worked in 2009…..I watched and automatic suspension be reversed with a pure B.S reason……And how did Malkin thank the powers that made this happen? By throwing this gem of an elbow

        Also i can name a billion issues with the Flyers in the last 40 years…..But what does that have to do with an article about Sid and the Pens?……Feel free!

      • blackandorangeforlife - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        The only differance between 2009 and today is the Pens dont get away with anything (Malkin still does)…….Every series including 2009 has looked the same for the Pens……Only now the implosions seem to count!

  2. lowenni - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    This was a very interesting read. There is more to a team than just its stars and its skill–you need identity, sportsmanship, and teamwork to lift the Cup. This years Kings are evidence of that. Despite being a Caps fans and contrary to what most hockey fans feel I like Crosby. I think he’s good for the sport and he’s a hell of a player. He’s a hard worker and I do believe he’ll work to elevate his game, which is scary, seeing how good he already is. This should be a wakeup call for Rutherford to take his captains comments to note and bring in some players who had other dimensions than just “skill”. Don’t want the rival Penguins lifting the Cup over my Caps but I don’t like Crosby getting so much hate across the league. He’s a good guy and a hell of a player.

    • c9castine - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      He deserves pretty much none of the criticism that comes his way. He has gone through a lot of adversity since winning the cup and has served the league well his entire career. He doesnt get enough appreciation for that – he is a huge reason why this league is even relevant today. Has also experienced some success too.

      Ive gotten used to it ever since he was drafted but its at a pretty ridiculous level. Calling him a poor leader is about as ignorant as it gets, but whatever. I watch him on a daily basis during the season and I listen to the things his teammates say about him. Hes a strong leader. Captains are important and have an impact but there is a lot more to go into that. I doubt anybody is going to start calling Dustin Brown the best captain in the league but by many peoples criteria, he is. There is often a double standard when it comes to these things.

      If i was a betting man, I would bet my money on Crosby, and his continued dominance and that he will lift the cup again. Odds are good on that.

      • ibieiniid - Jun 24, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        c9castine on Giroux from early last season.

        “Your captain is nothing more than a good hockey player and has done nothing to deserve the C, no before the fact or after.”

        funny you chimed in to defend your boy.

      • c9castine - Jun 24, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        I would. Say it’s ill advised to compare Giroux.to another captain.who consistently takes his team.further and.has a Stanley cup and two gold medals after being.named captain. Don’t.you?

  3. stakex - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:26 AM

    I don’t know what series you were watching Cam, but to say that Crosby “played well” during that series against the Rangers is taking serious liberties with the word “well”.

    • rsl22 - Jun 24, 2014 at 8:16 AM

      I had the exact same thought, you beat me to the post.

      Personally, not a huge fan of the guy, but it’d be idiotic to say he’s not a great player. However, in that series he did not play well. Malkin played well, Crosby was invisible.

  4. blomfeld - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:29 AM

    YEAH ? … AND PERHAPS A LITTLE TOO MUCH ‘EYE SHADOW’ EH ?

    The bottom line is that Crosby personifies the ‘quintessential’ pretty, prefect, media-fueled ‘poster boy’ who’s ‘completely’ failed to deliver as promised … and that’s a shame, especially for Canada.

  5. broadstreetbeatdown - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:32 AM

    It would have been a more accurate article if it read one goal in two series. makes it seem like wonder boy tore it up against the Jackets or something.

  6. ironmd778 - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:18 AM

    Wait. ESPN took the time to talk to a hockey player? Is that a misprint?

    • pmac26 - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:58 AM

      It’s only because they are in Vegas for the NHL awards

  7. papajack1259 - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:41 AM

    Ya think?

  8. bobc74 - Jun 24, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    If the guys at ESPN thought Crosby “played well” in the playoffs, is it any wonder why no one takes their NHL coverage seriously?

  9. spydey629 - Jun 24, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    First off, the haters can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that Sid is a “bad captain” then complain that he “whines” to the refs too much. Telling the ref he missed a call or relaying your teams’ concerns about how things are going on the ice is one of the A-1 things a captain is supposed to do.

    Secondly, IMO Sid is just a quiet leader. He speaks with his actions on the ice rather than any ra-ra stuff in the locker room. The problem is that teams know how to get him fired up – and therefore off his game. He has to work thru that, first and foremost. In the locker room, he needs a foil to be the ‘voice’ – e.g. Billy Guerin in 2009. Sid gives the impression that “aww shucks” persona he shows in the media is pretty much him 24/7, outside of when he’s cussing like a truck driver on the ice; happy or mad.

    I love Disco Dan, but he started to let the inmates run the asylum. A few guys getting benched here or there (Geno Malkin included) would’ve gone a long way to helping this team gain an ‘identity’. The other faults of his coaching style belong in another post.

    • petersteelewannabe - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:07 AM

      Complaining to the refs is an art form-do it too much and the refs don’t want to hear it. Miss an opportunity and you’re not viewed as a leader. Sid needs to pick and chose his arguments better.

      • c9castine - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:29 PM

        ill email him this post make sure he gets it im sure hes been looking for some advice on the matter.

        people who payed attention in the playoffs would have noticed he didnt talk to the refs hardly at all, he handed that duty off to assistant chris kunitz in an effort to stay stay away from distractions. it was something the team thought would be beneficial.

      • petersteelewannabe - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        c9, let me know what he says, I’m sure he looks forward to your e-mails.

        Back to the point, he complains too much, is NOT a good C, never has been. Sorry, it is was it is. That doesn’t take anything away from his talent.

        Also, letting Kunitz handle things obviously paid off.

  10. hockey412 - Jun 24, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    The comments are about as to be expected, ho hum, same ol’ jabs from the same ol’ people.

    However, people outside of Pittsburgh may not know how nice it is to hear Crosby say these words, that some type of change is necessary. Crosby is a polarizing individual, to say the least, and those that actually get to be around the things he does in this city love him for a reason. But he is a hard-headed individual, that is for sure.

    Interested to see at what point the Pens finally admit that they can’t build the depth they need for the playoffs while paying three superstars. People that have the character mentioned and ability to be physical aren’t always $700k/year.

    • c9castine - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      his stubbornness, lets be honest, is just another reason he fits into pittsburgh so well.

  11. jaybaileys - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    Im really interested to see what kind of contracts Toews and Kane get. The Blackhawks are definitely the better team top to bottom, but its hard to say Shero did the wrong thing in signing Sid and Geno to the long term deals. Now Letang is a different story. The Pens were a 2 line team with marginal defense and goaltending. You can’t succeed that way when your best players scores one goal in the playoffs. If Sid was even average they would have beat the Rangers. Doesn’t matter they would have lost to Montreal or been destroyed by the Kings. The Pens better hope the cap keeps going up, to make up for the overpayment of some of their supposed studs. Unless Rutherford manages to unload Letang. Chicago however is at somewhat of crossroads, do Toews and Kane hamstring them by doing huge deals? I bet they don’t, I bet they both sign for less than Sid and they continue to compete for Cups for the next decade. The Pens Im not so sure of that anymore, this offseason has been a total debacle, at this point I just hope Im not cringing when they name the coach.

  12. raleighcaniac - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    I’m no Pens fan but…

    For all the hack job comments about Crosby tell me YOUR team wouldn’t want him skating for them. As far as the Captain debate goes he has previously Captained Team Canada the most dominating, most powerful hockey team since 2002. If you question his Captaincy then you question Mike Babcock’s judgment. Hmm who knows more: the fickle fans or a Stanley Cup and Gold medal coach?

    As far as ragging on him in the Boston series and how he didn’t elevate his game I guess none of you noticed his jaw was sideways the whole series on account of it being broken in a couple places, missing teeth/re-arranged teeth plus getting sucker punched in the mouth by Chara. Just guessing but having a wired jaw, teeth missing, playing on meds and unable to eat just maybe affected his game a little. Juxtapose that with some of the undoubtedly morbidly obese diabetic slobs posting here who are so fat and non-athletic they have to take a break halfway up their stairs before making it to the top; you know, the kind that walk down the aisle of an airplane and everyone prays they don’t take that empty seat beside you.

    • malkamania71 - Jun 24, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      Hahahahaha that last sentence is gold. A bit harsh, but gold nonetheless.

    • pj608 - Jun 25, 2014 at 1:40 AM

      What was his excuse this year than hot shot? Fully healthy for the entire season and they almost lost to Columbus. What happened there?

  13. ironcity6pak - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    I’m really starting to question his leadership ability also. My main concern is coaches tuning down the job. No one wants to coach a team where certain player actually run the team and dictate how they play. Mario needs to light a fire and show these guys who’s boss.

    • c9castine - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      haha hes not running anything he never has thats not his style. he probably got his way with linemates a few times but, his production kinda backs that up…

      coaches arent turning down the job they are turning down the contracts. Desjardin wanted 4 years and control of his assistants.

      I personally am not into letting an AHL coach come in an pick his staff and get paid for 4 years. how all of the sudden this guy is such a hot commodity i dont know its almost funny though. good luck to vancouver i hope hes the real deal for you.

  14. jtowme - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    To say the Pens get away with more than any other team is just partisan BS from people who have been spanked by the Pens quite a few times. In truth, most teams get away with a lot of stuff. Hell, I think the Criers just commit as many offenses as possible knowing the ref is not going to keep calling penalties against one team. The Rangers in this years playoffs went after every opposing Goalie and then whined when LA went after Lundqvist. Look at the Bruins, few teams get away with what they do. The point here is that all teams get away with things…you can’t say any team has gotten away with so much more that they won the cup because of it. That’s just asinine and ridiculous.

    As far as the article. I think Crosby is not a great Captain and the Pens really don’t have a guy that steps up as a leader. They need that badly, along with more grit. But as a few others have said, which team would turn Crosby away as a member of their team? Think the Criers or the Bruins would not offer a contract? Look how quickly the Criers fans took to Jagr.

    • petersteelewannabe - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:10 AM

      Any team would take Crosby in a minute, obviously…but I wouldn’t want him as a Captain.

  15. ironcity6pak - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    raleighcaniac, LMAO! Well said. It’s not that us pens fan wouldn’t want him it’s just his ability to lead. I’m sure all the superstars on the Canadian team were able to work together. I’m sure they didn’t depend on Sid. I hate to say it but the Olympians take more pride in the Olympics than the NHL.

  16. sixchr - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    Can someone contact Crosby and find out if he actually said this and ESPN didn’t mix up any names or anything? I never thought I’d hear anything like this out of his mouth. It’s definitely an improvement but there’s no chance it lasts once the season starts.

  17. nyrnashty - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    The Pens shouldn’t blow all of their money on half a team and maybe they’ll get back to where the NHL media wants them to be.

  18. blueshirtsfaithful - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    😭

  19. nyrnashty - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    The real problem with the league is that stars are getting paid way to much for what the cap ceiling is. It doesn’t add up. Max contracts should be 5-6 million since the cap is low for the overall team. NHL is allowing top players to get paid what they should if the cap was 90-100 million, not 64-71. It’s kind of hard to fill out the rest of your roster when you have close to 20 million tied up between two guys, not picking on the Pens, it’s going on with multiple teams in the league. If your team can’t draft well to make up for the amount of money given to a few players on the roster, it will be tough to win moving forward unless the NHL raises the cap through the roof, which they probably won’t because that will make half the markets irrelevant right off the bat. I put the blame on the plaers and the owners, but if yomoving forward in this format, you will need to take less money as a player to allow the rest of your roster to get filled out properly.

  20. steelcity333 - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    I’m getting really tired of hearing about how Crosby is a bad leader. Whether he is or isn’t shouldn’t matter. These are grown men and shouldn’t need to be led by a teammate, especially if that teammate is most likely younger than you. I think saying he is a bad leader is the lamest excuse for this team’s failures. Crosby and the rest of the team hasn’t performed up to its capabilities in the postseason. They just weren’t good enough this year. That’s why they have lost, not because of Crosby’s leadership or lack thereof. Leadership is just another way his haters for bash him.

  21. ducksk - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    1. Russians are coach killers
    2. Sid is the best of NHL like him or not
    3. Pens need stand up vets to address leadership where and when Sid doesn’t
    4. The pens are a complete mess on mgmt.now and coaches. Rutherford is a bust, Mario will run the team.

    • c9castine - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      yeah, mario…the guy who has spoken publicly in the city he owns like 2 times in 10 years, is going to run the team.

      you know nothing.

  22. lallin66fan - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    When you are captain of the Penguins you have high expectations, and Crosby is a good leader just not best. But they should not take away the C from him, he is the most skilled player in nhl today (you who can’t accept that just cries because he doesn’t play for your theme)

    But the Penguins should sign or trade for some good leadership players. Hey I heard that Sharks wants Thorthon out. Trade him for Neal and a draft pick? I think yes.

    • lallin66fan - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      *Team ofc… stupid phone

    • jaybaileys - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      yea cause Thorton has such a good track record in the playoffs. He lead his team to one of the biggest collapses in hockey history a few months ago. The Pens don’t need another 35 year old that makes 7 million per year. 25 – 30 and a physical top 6 winger thats what they need, basically a tocchet type player, good luck finding him and better yet acquiring him.

    • c9castine - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      where would thornton play on a team that would still include crosby, malkin, and sutter. 4th line?

      yes, thats what the penguins are looking for…a 7 million dollar 4th line center. solves everything.

      especially for a guy who you think is a solid leader but has been the captain of the biggest choking team of the last decade.

  23. raleighcaniac - Jun 24, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    I would trade both Staals to Pit for Crosby. At least we would be getting a player who shows passion. I’ll bet Pit fans had no idea how good a player they were getting in ‘Sudsy’ Sutter when we traded him for that 6′ 4″ 220lb pu$$y J. Staal who plays like he’s 6′ 180lbs.

  24. pj608 - Jun 24, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    It’s because everyone knows Crosby is going to go behind the net. He gets hung up on the boards and then turns over the puck then the opposing team has a fast break with center ice wide open. Think Iam wrong?… Compare him to a center like toews and kopitar and see who is the first player to back check and take away center ice. This is why the kings won the cup. Center is the most important spot for DEFENSE and that’s why guys like stamkos malkin Crosby Ryan migrant Hopkins fail in big games. Take them out and there’s a lot of open ice on the break outs. Case closed.

    • pj608 - Jun 25, 2014 at 1:28 AM

      Iam guessing all the Crosby lovers hated this one. Its the truth… It happens all the time. Thats why he is the best regular season player and then the Worst playoff player. Even when they won the cup against detroit he only had like 1 point for the entire series. He is easy to take out of the game when it really matters and he is VERY EASY to piss off. Just like all you whiny penguin fans. Look at what he did in the olympics this past year… NOTHING! year he got the golden girl goal 8 years ago but that was because he was a kid and not people know exactly what hes gonna do. That X he spray paints on the ice for his blow job queen kunitz has been discovered. ” Heres crosby, He has the puck, Hes behind the net, He spins, Oh he spins again, hes going up the boards, Wait, HE SPINS AGAIN?!!>?!, He dished it to Kunitz, GOAL!!!!!!’ yep that pretty much sums up 90 percent of the points he gets in the regular season.

  25. pj608 - Jun 24, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    Also I have to add. I think malkin should go to another team and be captain because he is being held back by Crosby. I would take either or but they need depth and you can easily get 3 players and a draft pick for malkin. Pens used to have 3 number 1 centers. Think it’s time to rethink the roster. Not the coaching.

    • nyrnashty - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      You can’t get 3 players and a draft pick for Malkin or any other player like that in the game any more. Every other GM knows that Malkin is a 9.5 million dollar cap hit until 2022, yes 2022!!! Just think about that for a second. Why would you trade away 3 of your better players and a piece of your future to get one man back on your roster and then carry his 9.5 million dollar cap hit until 2022??? You’ll end up just like the Penguins. They’re going to have to ride him out!

      • pj608 - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        Every team needs a guy like Malkin to build around whether if they play forward, Defense or Goalie. Some teams do not have that guy. Some teams are built for the future but have no one that is a good captain/leader or just been in the league for a few years. A struggling team like NYI, CGY, NSH, EDM, VAN, TBL, CAR, NYR, NJD, DAL, CBJ, TOR, FL, and DET would kill for a guy like Malkin, All those teams I just mentioned all have Depth but no leader or just dont have a good offensive player like Malkin. Your telling me that if you were a GM of a team and Malkin was on the trade block you wouldnt make an offer???? your dumb. I am not saying their better players. I am saying Role players like 3rd 4th line guys. Because thats what Pittsburgh needs. Half their team can go on the 1st line somewhere else. They need DEPTH 3rd and 4th line players. It doesnt have to be 3 people. You can get a 2nd liner, a 3rd liner and a pick for him. No doubt in my mind. Or you can get 2 4th liners and a 3rd liner with a 1st round pick. I would put money on if he went to the trade block 3/4s of the NHL teams would make a legit offer.

      • pj608 - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:49 PM

        Look how much NYR gave up for an ageing St. Louis. Your telling me people wouldn’t trade for Malkin???? NYR gave 2 first rounders. 2!!!!!! oh wait, and their Captain!?!?!?! for a 39 year old Martin St. Louis. Yeah dude. Think about that.

  26. ducksk - Jun 24, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    c9castine your and awesome pens insider. Not. Shero ran the team, no strings. Mario will not and is not going to let that happen. I don’t care hime much you hear from him or not. You don’t know what your talking about. He will call all final shots, he wants tockett there as asst. done. You know nothing.

    • c9castine - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:21 AM

      im not usually one to nit pick on grammar and spelling but that was brutal.

  27. pj608 - Jun 24, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    C9 dummy…. San Jose and…. Pittsburgh are the two teams that choke the most and FACT. The pens have a lot more talent than any other team in the league. There is no reason why thy shouldn’t make the eastern conference finals every year. Choke on that retard

    • c9castine - Jun 25, 2014 at 1:02 AM

      Pittsburgh has 3 cups in 25 years only 2 other teams can say that.
      They’ve won with the current core players.

      • pj608 - Jun 25, 2014 at 1:12 AM

        NJD won 3 in 8 years. 95, 2000, 2003. Whats your point? Because NJDs had no where near all these star players that are on the penguins. This is the NBA equivilant to the Miami Heat or the Denver Broncos in foot ball. With a team like that you should be winning every other year and ATLEAST making the Conference Finals EVERY YEAR.

      • pj608 - Jun 25, 2014 at 1:19 AM

        and thats impossible because Crosby has only won 1 Stanley cup in 2009. The time before that Pens won in 91 and 92. So them winning the 3 cups with their “core players” is in fact a false and dumbfounded statement. Crosby was still wetting his bed when those “core” players won the first 2 and Malkin was over in russia getting paid 1 ruble a day to shovel his grandmothers driveway. Your dumb dude. Dont even reply because you are a waste of brain cells.

      • c9castine - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:20 AM

        i said they’ve won with the current core i didnt say all 3 25 years ago also.

        your calling me dumb, but you can’t read, and you can’t properly use the word dumbfounding either.

  28. officialgame - Jun 24, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    Having Ablysmal as your head coach sure didn’t help. The guy came in, got lucky , and won a Cup off of another coaches hard work.

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