Sidney Crosby does not look like a confident hockey player.
He needs to find his confidence again.
It's really that simple.
But it's also really...that complicated.
When Crosby entered the league he was 18...he was Sid The Kid.
He led by example.
His example was powerful because he simply enjoyed playing the game of hockey and he was one of the best in the world at doing it. He truly enjoyed the thrill of the competition.
Ten years have passed.
Crosby is no longer the Kid.
Maybe the pressures of being who he is...are finally taking a toll on his ability to enjoy the game he used to love.
His team...the Penguins...are starting to show it too.
People want Sid...myself included - until last night I think...to stand up and become an alpha male.
They want him to address his team...and maybe the media...and perhaps all of the Penguin fans...and say...I will be better...we will be better.
I really thought that too...and then last night it occurred to me...we all want Crosby to be something he is not.
He is NOT...that guy...or at least he has not been up until now in his career.
He is the captain...of course...but his leadership has always been by example.
So what do you do with a captain who leads by example...and then the example isn't what it used to be?
Sure...it's possible Crosby has lost a step. Maybe he doesn't have that little extra burst...all the time...that he used to. And maybe that has him in a place, mentally, where he has never really been before.
Losing your confidence is tough. You will try all sorts of positive thought processes to get it back.
Maybe you practice longer...or you try and focus harder.
Maybe you work on what you know your weak areas are.
But sometimes even those things don't bring back the confidence.
Sometimes the lack of confidence becomes the focal point...and that never brings it back.
In truth...everybody is different when it comes to what is necessary to restore their confidence.
But I have a hunch I know what will restore Crosby's.
Finding a way to love the game again.
Finding a way to enjoy the thrill of the competition.
So maybe it's not really about confidence at all?
Maybe it's about loving the game...loving the competition...playing for the victory?
When Crosby was 19 I wrote this. It's not possible for him to be 19 again, but it IS possible for him to see the game like this again.
I think if that happens...no wait...I know WHEN that happens...we'll see the Crosby we all know is still there.
From April of 2007
I'm not 19. In fact I am MORE THAN TWICE that age.
When I was 19 I was in college.
I was trying to learn how to live on my own.
Trying to figure out if I had enough money to buy a pizza on a Saturday night.
Trying to stay out of trouble and keep my grades up.
Trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life.
Nobody followed me around with cameras.
Nobody asked me for my opinion about what I had to do to be a better student.
Nobody booed me when I walked into class.
And I liked it that way too...after all, I was just a kid.
I watched a kid play a hockey game today. A 19 year old who appears to have the weight of the hockey world on his shoulders. And it's not that he really ASKED for this weight, it's just something that kind of happened.
It happened because as a young boy he loved the game of hockey.
It happened because he worked as hard as he could to be the best he could be.
It happened because HIS best turned out to better than (maybe) anybody elses.
I watched this boy, who a couple of days ago played in his first NHL playoff game and appeared to be somewhat overwhelmed, make a great play to win a game. I saw him hit a puck off the shaft of his stick into the net. I watched his reaction after the goal...a reaction that showed how much the goal meant to him.
And after his team won...I read about how reporters asked him many questions about the game he played. How photographers took his picture. How he was the center of attention.
I wondered to myself: How does he do all of this, at just 19? Could I handle that kind of pressure? Could I be the one that everybody looks to so often for answers?
Surely, at 19, I could not have been that person...
And then I came across a comment he made that put everything into perspective....
"The spotlight is not important to me. You work hard all year, and even before that, you work hard your whole life to get in the NHL and then to get in the playoffs. Where the spotlight is, that's not really a concern for me. I just want to win."
And that's what makes him so special. Because the things that everyone focuses on that they believe make him special...the way he skates...the way he makes great passes...the timely and unforgettable goals...are only possbile because of that something special that he has deep down inside.
We sure are lucky to have him...