Thursday, February 01, 2007

Crosby's will to win

This piece by Cam Cole is a few days old, as it ran in the National Post on the weekend, but it's still worth a read.

Some of it gets at the human side of Sidney Crosby and the Penguins other young stars, something that's often difficult to do given all of the hullabaloo around this team wherever they travel. Cole managed to hang around Dallas an extra day or two and get a little bit more in-depth.

Here's Crosby:
"If you want to be your best, you can't sit still and look at what you've done. I think I'm successful because I've worked hard, and I still believe that the moment I stop working hard, it's all going to go away."

Case in point: an hour after Wednesday's all-star game, Crosby was asking a Penguins staffer to arrange ice time in Dallas the following day for himself, Evgeni Malkin and YoungStars game participants Jordan Staal and Ryan Whitney. The Stars said the four could use their practice facility ... at 10 a.m. Crosby rousted the other three at 8 in the morning, and off they went to suburbia.

"What a nerd," laughed a former NHLer, when apprised of the story.

Crosby just shrugged.
You often hear about the "genius" when it comes to a player like Crosby, but we've rarely heard about the dedication part of what goes into being an elite player at such a young age. And maybe that's selling Crosby short, chalking everything he's accomplished up to only natural talent when he's spent his entire life working to be the best.

It makes you wonder, how much of what he's accomplished this season is the result of outworking his opposition? How good would Crosby be without that fire that all the greats have?

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At 8:55 a.m., February 01, 2007, Blogger Julian said...

There's a Gretzky quote or two I'm reminded of, though I don't remember them at all correctly, just paraphrasing...

"It's not god-given talent, it's Wally-given talent", and "No one would say a surgeon has natural god-given talent, they have to work for it. I put just as much work or more into my career as any surgeon out there".

At 11:45 a.m., February 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes the great ones truly special is not only their talent, but their drive and work ethic. There are all kinds of borderline NHLers who work just as hard as Crosby just to stay in the league. At the same time, there are players who can probably rival him, or come close, on God given talent. (Jagr, perhaps Kovalev, Kovalchuk, etc.) Crosby, however, combines both immense talent and work ethic, which is what separates and defines him.

This very much reminds me of the Jerry Rice stories out there. Rice was not only the first guy at practice and the last to leave, but apparently also had an off-season workout regimen that would exhaust a Marine. He routinely left younger players in the dust who tried to keep up with him in the off-season. Ditto for Walter Payton, who was fanatical about training and was always the last guy off the field.

Crosby's work ethic is what will separate his career from those of guys like Lafleur and Denis Savard, guys who were gifted but ultimately lazy. Ironic that Savard, who smoked between periods, is now a coach. How much credibility does he have looking a player in the eye and telling him his conditioning isn't up to par?

At 2:41 p.m., March 03, 2007, Anonymous MikeP said...

Anonymous, I dunno about hockey but I knew some guys in the military who would kick your ass in anything you care to name (distance running, ruck marches, sprints, whatever) and then light up right afterwards. Maybe their conditioning could be better, but they were still in better shape than most of the troops they were leading - pretty good, considering we were all early 20s and they were mid-30s to 50s.

Besides, I suspect any player who looked Denis Savard in the eye and said "well, YOU smoked" would find his way to the end of the bench pretty quick, and Savard's own accomplishments are such that I don't think it should be an issue anyway. He comes from a different era.


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