Let me start off by saying I'm a huge fan of No. 87. He's a unique talent who brings an almost unmatched level of enthusiasm, excitement, and talent to the game of hockey, not to mention the Pittsburgh Penguins and the NHL.
Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, I can also tell you that my hockey blood bleeds red and white come, Olympic time (along with the World Championship, the World Jr., etc.). For Canada's Olympic hockey team, winning gold is the only option, especially on home soil. Anything less will be a disappointment. Now that might not be fair, but things in life aren't always just, and when it comes to international hockey performances here in the Great White North, expectations are always high.
Crosby's candidacy for the captainship is based on much more than my worship for the player himself. I looked long and hard at all of the potential candidates, from star players like Iginla and Thornton, to hardened vets like Niedermayer and Pronger, and used sound logic and an exacting process to come to the conclusion.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 reasons why I think Crosby should wear the mighty "C" on his jersey this coming February.
No. 10 —Fan Favorite
For every fan who says they don't like Crosby, you could find two more who will confess their adoration for him. If anything can be taken from past Olympic experiences, NHL fans in Canada will easily set aside any loyalties and cheer on the boys in red and white like they are their own. Come Olympic time, Sid will be a fan favorite of one and all who say "eh."
No. 9 —Yzerman Factor
As Team Canada’s head honcho, Yzerman should be able to relate to Crosby better than most. Like Crosby, he was named captain of a NHL team at a young age, and should be able to gauge if Crosby is the right man for the job. Yzerman hasn’t tipped his hand yet, but I think he knows Crosby has what takes to captain this team.
No. 8 —Maturity
Although he's only 22, Crosby is already in his fifth NHL season and has had to burden quite a bit of responsibility ever since he was a teenager. Being named captain of the Penguins and back-to-back trips to Stanley Cup Finals have accelerated his maturation process and he's more than capable of leading a team full of the NHL’s top talents.
No. 7 —The Pressure
Outside of whoever is tending the crease in Montreal, Crosby is probably scrutinized more than any other player in the league. His every action, comment, and overall play is debated and analyzed on almost a daily basis. Crosby has learned to excel with all of the pressure that is placed upon him, and the added responsibilities of being Team Canada’s captain won’t faze him in the least.
No. 6 —Role Model
As the host country for the Games, Canada's most popular winter sport needs to have an on-ice leader who genuinely displays the Olympic values of friendship, respect, fair play, courage, determination, and equality. Crosby exhibits these in spades.
No. 5 —Experience
See answer to question eight. Adding to his NHL experience, Crosby has also represented Canada in international play, competing in two World Junior Championships and the 2006 World Championships following his rookie season. During the '06 event, "The Next One" served as an alternate captain for that squad and put up a tourney best eight goals and eight assists.
No. 4 —Respect
Crosby's detractors will try to claim otherwise, but I am a firm believer that he is highly respected by opposing players, officials, and others associated with the game. While Crosby went through growing pains during his first year in the NHL and was sometimes labeled a whiner, much like another great named Mr. Gretzky, he quickly outgrew this and silenced early critics like CBC's Don Cherry.
No. 3 —The Media
If the whole hockey thing doesn't work out for Sid, he’d have no trouble finding alternative employment as a media trainer. For more than a decade, Crosby has become well acquainted with reporters, cameras, mics, etc. He is savvy with the media and knows the right things to say and the right time to say them. For many, dealing with the media during the Olympics will be a distraction, for Crosby, it will be par for the course.
No. 2 —Fire On Ice
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more competitive individual than Crosby. His fanatical drive and passion are what set him apart from others in the game. By naming him captain, these traits will become contagious and rub off on the team as a whole.
No. 1 —He’s A Winner
Lastly, when the game is on the line, he delivers: Stanley Cup Champion; World Jr. Gold Victor; Art Ross & Pearson Winner…enough said.
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