Friday, January 13, 2012

The Secret Penguins Team Meeting Heard 'Round the World

By Finesse

In his column this morning, Dejan Kovacevic of the Trib writes
You're going to hear some of this stuff Friday when Crosby faces reporters at about noon in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. But let me lay this out now: The Penguins, the public and, yes, Crosby all need to learn how to handle this situation better in the future.  
That begins with the locker room.  
A few, certainly not all, of Crosby's teammates are of the mind that he's been symptom-free for a while, though they have no medical basis for that. Some think he should be playing. Some simply think he should be doing more to communicate, or at least be as visible as concussed defenseman Kris Letang.  
Last week in Pittsburgh, according to three sources, a group of players held a 45-minute meeting to discuss a temporary captaincy. Another source disputed that any such meeting occurred.  
If it did, were those players kidding? 
That's solid reporting.

My position on this meeting, if it did occur, is: Good.

Penguins' players are clearly frustrated by the uncertainty surrounding the Crosby situation, which is completely understandable.  But the worst thing they could do is just sit back and wait around with the expectation that Sid is going to come back and everything will be ok.  By adopting the mentality that "he's not here, let's start figuring out how to do this without him," the team isn't turning its back on Sid.  The guys who are playing have jobs to do -- kudos to them for trying to do it.

If some of the players think Sid should be playing, that's unfortunate, but not surprising.  Concussions are not well-understood, even by players who seem to get them all the time.  When Pens' players see Sid literally skating circles around them in practice, they may understandably think, "wait, I don't get it, tell me again why he's not playing?"  Sure, this may be an ignorant opinion from a medical perspective, but no one has ever accused hockey players of being geniuses.

Gave the camera a concussion with his eyes.
That's where education becomes important, and it starts with Crosby.  The sentence that resonates most with me from Kovacevic's column is: "Some simply think he should be doing more to communicate, or at least be as visible as concussed defenseman Kris Letang."  Whoever is saying that has a valid point.  If some of the guys on the team don't know what is going on with Crosby, doesn't some of the responsibility for that fall on Sid?  After all, he is the captain and these are his "men."  They deserve to know what is happening -- as their friend and co-worker, Sid is in the best position to educate them.  If Sid does that and they still think that outdated notions of toughness should trump Sid's doctors' advice then, again, no one is accusing hockey players of being geniuses.

The situation is reaching a boiling point and the best guy to turn down the heat on all of this is Crosby.  The sad thing is that there is any heat at all.  Almost everyone is rooting for Crosby to be ok.  We're on his team.  We want him to get better.  We want him to take as much time as it takes.  We want to know what is happening not because we want to judge whether he's tough or not, but because we support him and want to understand.

The truth is that throughout this whole process, we've too often had no idea what is going on.  You can argue that fans have no need or right to know -- I'd disagree with that, but I understand -- but his teammates and the organization do have a right to know what is happening.

It's not Sid's fault for missing all this time.  But the guys who are healthy have been dealing with this for over a year now; if they're tired of waiting for Sid to come back, it doesn't necessarily mean they think he's not tough or not a good captain.  It means they realize they can't sit around feeling sorry for themselves and they need to have a plan to go win games without him.  And that's exactly what they should be doing.

1 comment:

  1. Wait, Letang has been visible? Cause I haven't heard/read anything about him in ages.