Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crosby, Canada's captain?


So, there's a debate going on north of the border in regards to whom should captain the Canadian Olympic men's hockey team next year in Vancouver.

One name some people want to throw out is Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby.

But, let's be honest here: Crosby should not be Team Canada's captain.

By my reckoning, just off the top of my head, there are at least three good reasons why Crosby should not have any C stitched onto his sweater other than on his back.

First off - assuming he makes the final roster - Crosby will be on a team where most, if not all, of the players will be older than him. Ask the Penguins coaches or players what a significant factor in their Stanley Cup run this summer was and they'll say it was the presence of the grizzled Bill Guerin.

Guerin came into the locker room and immediately began throwing good-natured jibes in Crosby's direction, which loosened up the team. Crosby is still just 22 and it helps having older players like Guerin around for him to lean on. It will be better if instead one of those veterans wears the C.

Second, Crosby hasn't played in the Olympics before. He's supposed to tell his teammates what to expect when there are players who have already won the gold medal? Sid's going to need to stay in the shadows in the locker room and actually experience the circus without being the ringmaster.

Finally, Crosby still has a little maturing to do. That was evident after Pittsburgh beat Detroit in Game 7 in June, when Crosby missed part of the handshake line. If Guerin was the captain, I'm willing to bet there wouldn't have been any pseudo-controversy. Sid got caught up in the moment, and maybe that's the last time he'll make that mistake if given the chance to do so again, but the incident is a small notch against Crosby's candidacy.

The bottom line is, it's just not Crosby's time. If the NHL participates in the 2014 Games, he'll likely be a prime and logical candidate. While some people may view Team Canada as "Crosby's team," that doesn't mean he needs to be the captain.

He'll likely be a significant player for Canada and will be a main target of all the reporters. If anything, that's another reason he shouldn't be the captain. He'll have plenty of other responsibilities without needing to worry about locker room obligations.

More logical candidates are Calgary's Jarome Iginla or Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer. Personally, my meaningless vote is for Iginla, one of my favorite non-Penguins in the league, one of the most all-around individuals in the game and one of the most widely respected players.

As for Crosby, I think it'll be much better for his personal enjoyment of the Olympics and his development as a leader to sit back, let someone else handle the reins, and watch how other leaders run their teams, whether it's Iginla, Niedermayer, or whomever should be Canada's captain.

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