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Johnston: Teammates need to do more to help Crosby

Aug 28, 2014, 9:33 PM EDT

Sidney Crosby Getty Images

Sidney Crosby is the reigning Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner, but whether or not the Pittsburgh Penguins will win the Stanley Cup in 2014-15 will depend on far more than just his performance.

New Penguins head coach Mike Johnston seems to think that Crosby has done his part to make the team a success and it’s up to his teammates to do more to help him out.

“You don’t ever question his work ethic,” Johnston told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You don’t ever question his commitment. For a guy his age coming into the NHL and carrying the load that he’s carried, I believe he’s done a phenomenal job.

“Do we have to lessen the load? Yes. We have to ensure that other players on our team take some of the responsibility off his shoulders — both in leadership and also in performance. He is a captain, and he is a leader, but it doesn’t all rest on Sid.”

Crosby obviously isn’t the only major offensive threat in Pittsburgh, but the team’s balance has been put into question. GM Jim Rutherford has attempted to address that with the acquisitions of Steve Downie, Nick Spalling, and Patric Hornqvist. If Pascal Dupuis and Beau Bennett can stay relatively healthy this season after missing large chunks of 2013-14, then the Penguins’ depth might be less of an issue going forward.

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that this team is incredibly dependent on Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They can’t win the Cup by themselves, but Pittsburgh will have a very hard time staying competitive if those two aren’t at their best.

  1. bcsteele - Aug 28, 2014 at 9:37 PM

    I’m not a fan of him or thus team but about damn time someone said it. Crosby is an exceptional player…not a hockey god…give this guy some support and they may dominate yet again.

  2. 19inarow - Aug 28, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    Since when has the team been depending on only Crosby? They’ve been depending on their core.

    • hockey412 - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:19 AM

      But who would you say that is? I agree that Malkin is in the mix here too – and actually there was a related article on here the other day, titled something like “It’s All on Crosby and Malkin…”. I’m actually glad to hear Johnston come in with the attitude that it is NOT all on Crosby (or Malkin).

      Shero had his work cut out in a low cap era to fit these contracts in, and still build a team – in a few years their contracts will be bargains…so it’s important that they aren’t looked to be the only threats on the team. Other lines need ice time and HAVE to have the potential to score. You ride a car on only two of its tires and those two tires wear out. Right around playoff time, evidently.

  3. chanceoffleury - Aug 28, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    Mike Krzyzewski said when JJ Reddick was at Duke the team would “JJ watch” when things got tough and it was one of the hardest parts of having such a good player on the team. I’ve said before that the Pens do a similar thing with Crosby and Malkin at times. They’d get in these funks where their only game plan is to wait for the perfect setup pass or just try and get the puck to one of them even if they aren’t open. That leads to them just trying to do way too much and they get sloppy. The rest of the team would only occasionally make real efforts to create their own chances.

    Bylsma always had them doing that tic-tac-toe and stretch passing which would look absolutely beautiful at times, but there were a lot of nights when the ice was rough or the players just weren’t hitting their targets, but that was where Bylsma would get outcoached. He (and the team) would refuse to just take the puck to the net themselves and shoot it. I’d love to see another season where Crosby challenges for the rocket. It’d be nice if him and Malkin started shooting more again. A lot of good things tend to happen when they do!

    • patthehockeyfan - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:20 AM

      I’m impressed as hell that you spelled Coach K’s last name correctly!

    • hockey412 - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:49 AM

      You’re right – it’s why the team has always played so well with them out of the line-up. Hell one year that won Bylsma the Jack Adams (making the playoffs without Crosby/Malkin). They need to keep it simple. Anaheim always seems to have a shoot first mentality, I’m hoping the Pens get one.

    • c9castine - Aug 30, 2014 at 1:16 AM

      spot on buddy.

  4. jinx21fan - Aug 28, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    Well, that’s a great sound bite – and true. But the comment should be directed towards the management team that decided the Penguin’s strategy of tying up a significant portion of the salary cap into a few core players. Major gamble, and if some of them under perform (looking at you MA Fleury) things can get ugly. Their drafting needs to provide cheap and reliable players to augment the core. Any cheap FA’s the bring in and have workout leave for bigger paychecks.

    Don’t blame their bit players, blame the people that left so few resources available to attract/provide bit players.

    • JoeAvg - Aug 28, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      He (Shero) did take the blame. In the worst way. He was good at the trade table but that’s about it. He failed at other important aspects of the job. His penchant for drafting defensemen, even at the cost of passing up local blue chip prospects (see: Saad, & Gibson), was particularly annoying.

      • jinx21fan - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:15 AM

        When you hand out massive contracts I believe it’s one time when the GM has to get ownership on board. I would assume then there was a collective philosophy in their approach. We’ll see the philosophy going forward.

        But you are right, in that scenario, the GM and scouting department must draft very well.

    • jpelle82 - Aug 29, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      5 million for a goalie is not a major gamble, especially when he was a 1st overall pick and a stanley cup winner. every team pays (ties up a significant portion of their cap) their core players and builds around them. did you not see where chicago just spent 21 million on 2 guys? crosby is a meager 8.7 hit and malkin is only 9.5 i think. also i shudder to think at what last season wouldve been had shero not had such a boner for defensemen.

  5. esracerx46 - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:11 AM

    Stop catering to Crosby! Sid needs to learn how to lead the team and not simply be the best player. It seems like Johnston is falling into the same trap Byslma did and did anything and everything to cater to Crosby. Treat him like every other player and perhaps the team dynamic changes.

    • hockey412 - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:37 AM

      “treat him like every other player”….um….that’s what the article is about. Stop looking to everything being all about Crosby. Build a team where other lines get more minutes as well, and are accountable for their play. Stop putting out a fourth line with absolutely NO 5 on 5 responsibility. Maybe you are just recapping the article, but if not, maybe you should take a second and read it.

  6. blomfeld - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    “whether or not the Pittsburgh Penguins will win the Stanley Cup in 2014-15 will depend …”


    signed, comrade Blomfeld …

    LA Kings ‘Kampf’ (battle and/or struggle) Leader for LA Kings Nation North / Vancouver Sector

  7. pitpenguinsrulez - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:15 AM

    So far I’ve liked what Johnson has had to say. Sid can’t be the only guy to carry the load. Malkin and Co. have to step it up and help carry the team when Sid has an off night etc. One player can’t win you a Stanley Cup, take a team.

  8. blackandorangeforlife - Aug 29, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    Jonston is saying the right things….Problem is who is saying the right things to?
    Downie?….Hornquist?…..Dupis?….Kunitz?……Sid can make any player better as can Malkin but they cant make them a complete and balanced team…..Pens are surely a playoff team…..But they are far from a Kings, Hawks or Bruins squad when talking about winning a Cup…..

    • hockey412 - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:46 AM

      You are going to get some thumbs down on this, but objectively, you aren’t wrong. My belief is that it will take about 2 years and the Pens will be very strong, IF they are able to recruit free agents well. The cap has been an enemy with so much money tied up in a few players. But we have them long term, and look at the contracts being handed out these days…those will be bargains (look at Kane/Toews).

      They need to draft well – but they will not have early picks, so they are going to have to attract free agents also. But if they can actually re-build a ‘team’ around Crosby and Malkin instead of relying on those lines solely, they’ll be in good shape.

      • blackandorangeforlife - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        I knew it would get a lot of thumbs down……Any form of criticism seems to get most Pens fans uptight……Even if it wasn’t said as a “Hate” comment

  9. blynasty - Aug 29, 2014 at 7:28 AM

    I am so ready for hockey!

  10. jasonp815 - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    You hear that Malkin. Jonston only said Sid needed help. You dont do as much as Crosby to help this team. You’ll never be Sidney. JK

    • jpelle82 - Aug 29, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      malkin goes into beast mode and doesnt need help anyway, the only thing malkin needs help with is staying out of the penalty box

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