by PuckStopsHere on 11/10/09 at 04:50 PM ET
It is obvious that Sidney Crosby is one of the most talented players in the NHL. He has the ability to become the player who dominates a generation. He won the 2007 Hart Trophy as a 19 year old and seemed to be well on his way to a significant period as the standard bearer for the NHL. This is yet to happen. He was not a Hart Trophy nominee in either of the last two seasons. His team won the 2009 Stanley Cup, but he was not chosen as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner. Crosby remains one of the best players in the NHL, but he is unable to make the jump to be the best player in the game. I think one reason for this is immaturity and a lack of self-discipline. One clear symptom of this is his penalty total. Crosby has 31 penalty minutes so far this season. That puts him second on his Pittsburgh Penguins team (behind Jay McKee). He leads the NHL in minor penalties (with 13 - tied with Hal Gill of Montreal). There is no reason Sidney Crosby should lead the league in minor penalties.
Crosby is not a particularly large physical player. He does not play a defensive role - where sometimes taking a penalty is a better move than allowing a high percentage scoring opportunity. Most of Crosby’s penalties come from fouling and retaliating against the men assigned to check him. As Crosby is one of the top offensive threats in hockey he is always well checked (he is even more closely checked when Evgeni Malkin is hurt - leaving him as Pittsburgh’s only serious scoring threat)
Sidney Crosby has to be able to control his emotions enough to play under tight checking and to draw penalties without retaliating. Opposition players are finding it too easy to knock Crosby off his game and get him into the penalty box. Crosby does no good for Pittsburgh in the penalty box.
It is easy to forget that Crosby is only 22 years old. Self-discipline comes with maturity. Given a few more years, I bet it will be harder to draw Crosby into a penalty. In the meantime it has become a strategy when playing Pittsburgh to try to get Sidney Crosby in the penalty box. This is one clear symptom of the lack of self-discipline in Crosby’s game that may be keeping him from being the NHL’s best player.
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