I consider myself a massive Sidney Crosby fan. I fully admit he was the big reason I started following the Penguins religiously again. But I also consider myself an open minded hockey fan. I’m very careful about what I commit to.
So in November of last season when Sid was off to a slow start by any standard, when others had him retired, I said he’d finish the year in the top 15 it wasn’t just a biased Sid fan moment. I believed. Even though I was called crazy, he still proved even me wrong, cracking the top 5 by the All-Star break.
I truly think he’s capable of pretty much anything.
But, I also consider myself an open minded general hockey fan. When people try to say “of course he can, he’s Sidney Crosby” I don’t think that’s fair either. That implies it’s a given for him. That he’s got some sort of superpower that just makes things happen. While it may seem like that, what really makes him Sid is he works harder than anyone has ever worked at anything. I know its not a given so that’s why I appreciate him so much. Or at least I thought I did.
But just today something happened. Last night in Los Angeles Crosby scored two beauties. A perfect, intentional tip in and a quickly elevated upstairs shot off a rebound. My brother wrote me a message saying “what kind of pass was that off the wall with the guy’s stick right there to intercept it right into Letang’s one time wheelhouse, then making sure it gets upstairs on the rebound?” He then said something that really made me stop and think.
“I don’t see many guys daring to make that pass, let alone executing it.”
I’m going to be honest. My initial reaction was it wasn’t that big a deal. The point was always where the puck should be going there. Sid always puts it out there. Every game he whips blind passes and rim passes up to the right point, especially on the power play. So of course he’ll just find a way to get it there and let’s move on. It’s a given.
Theres that phrase again. It’s a given. Only this time it was me saying it. But looking more closely at it:
There’s nothing given here. If he takes the time to turn properly and face Letang for the direct pass he’s probably not getting that pass through. If he does, it’s probably not clean, and Letang has no time to do much except try to throw it deep. There’s a Kings player in the slot already sliding toward the passing lane. There’s a King on the boards with his body blocking the skating lane and his stick taking away the direct pass. Plus, he’s got a defenceman right in front of him. Yet somehow, facing the corner, under pressure, and having only had the puck for literally less than a second at this point, he’s gone through all this and is already setting up for the bank pass. He actually releases the puck BEFORE the King on the boards takes one full stride in reaction to the loose puck that Crosby already controlled. Even still, just thinking of this pass doesn’t guarantee anything. He’s got very little space to get the puck through, and no ideal angle to reach Letang. Yet the pass couldn’t have landed any more perfectly. It was flat, easily manageable weight, and right on the tape.
And I missed it all because I was so sure it would get there I was already watching for the next step. The magical part is, so was 87. He didn’t react at all as someone who was surprised it went where he wanted. He was already on to phase two as well which is why he got to the rebound first. That type of confidence may be more magical than the actual pass. If someone else hadn’t made me stop and really look at it, I wouldn’t have even thought about it.
So there it is. My first “taking Sid for granted” moment. Have you ever taken Sidney Crosby for granted?