In the words of Shakespeare: Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.
We have long been hearing about the technical greatness of Sidney Crosby, "The Next One." No one can argue how talented he is as a hockey player. Both he and Evgeni Malkin have had a hand in eight of the 10 goals scored by the Pittsburgh Penguins thus far in the Stanley Cup Finals.
But if Pittsburgh wants to win, others will have to achieve greatness and still more will have to hope it gets thrust upon them.
Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings are making return appearances in this years Stanley Cup Finals. A remarkable feat within itself. While unsuccessful last year, Crosby once again has the opportunity to win the cup, one campaign older, one campaign wiser, and a first hand eye witness to what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. Youth and experience cannot be used as an excuse this time around
Now is his time to step up and show his leadership on the ice. Hard hits, being aggressive and most of all, being disciplined. And leadership on this team needs to come from several of the players, including those who do not have a letter sewn on their jersey. Composure is a key part of being a good leader, and that means no stupid penalties, no whining, and almost willing themselves to victory.
For good leadership, one only has to look at the likes of Mark Messier, a physically dominating player. Messier stepped up, got results, and exuded fear and power when he stepped on the ice. Players like Jerome Iginla, Scott Stevens, and Derian Hatcher were imposing figures on the ice as well.
Captains such as Steve Yzerman, Mats Sundin, and Joe Sakic may not have been the loud, rah rah type of leaders, but they led by example and determination. Even Wayne Gretzky had a reputation for being whiny as a younger player, but he manned up and took charge when push came to shove.
When these players were on the ice, you could feel the urgency and anticipation that in the dying seconds, the anticipation that something big was going to happen...and with these men, something usually did. The above leaders also made people around them better.
When Crosby et al. are on, I don't feel that dominance. I don't feel that sense of urgency and anticipation. I saw spurts of it, such as after Jordan Staal's short handed goal in Game Four.
With the Penguins behind in the series 3-2, they are heading home, which has been an important advantage during this series as the home team has won each time.
Who knows when Crosby will be in this position again. Who knows how many more chances Pittsburgh will have in the future. If Sidney doesn't play well now, this may be his leadership legacy, fair or not. Perhaps being born with greatness isn't enough. Perhaps the secret ingredient to being a leader is being able to stoke the fires of greatness in others. Make others aware of their responsibilities instead of being liabilities.
Regardless, something needs to change. As good as some of the players have been, they all need to be better. As talented as Pittsburgh is, they still have a chance to win. Only time will tell how Crosby will be remembered, and at least for now, we still have two playoff games remaining.
And touch wood, many years of Crosby remaining for us to see whether or not this is his Stanley Cup opportunity, or one of many more to come.