How important is team unity and team morale in professional sports?
I had believed the Pittsburgh Penguins were on their way to a new NHL dynasty of winning multiple world championships and domination of an era. I was led to believe that with Crosby, Malkin, and Stahl, the proof was in the pudding of this team's youth, talent, and team dynamic.
I was wrong. The downfall of the Penguins started several months ago when Crosby blatantly cheap-shotted an opposing player, hitting him in the mouth and not getting any retribution his way thereafter. This is the kind of action and behavior that can permeate through a team, much like a positive play or behavior can elevate a team to great heights.
Actions such as this percolate in the minds and hearts of teammates in a way that makes them say, "Wow!" I did not expect this and this is not what I envisioned from this player.
Since Crosby's horrific act of blatant disrespect towards the game his teammates, this Penguins team has fallen woefully south in the Atlantic Division standings and, most recently, fired head coach Michelle Therien. Sometimes, it is an act or behavior that resonates much deeper than the apparent talent base on the ice, the field, or the court.
The individual act or behavior psychologically removes your teammates from experiencing that closeness or intimacy that is needed to elevate the collectiveness of the team.
When Crosby deliberately acted in the manner he did, I could see and intuitively sense that he psychologically and emotionally drained every ounce of team morale and unity from this Penguins team. I will find it hard to believe at this point that this team will reach the playoffs. They aren't being beaten physically on the ice, but from the inside out, from the collective soul of their unity, from the depths of their will, and from their desire to compete.
Crosby has completely removed the life force of this team. The respect and leadership have vanished; the Penguins as we knew them have been lost in the dust of Crosby's blatant act of selfishness.