Olympic Hockey Gold Medal Game: Crosby's Chance To Shine on Biggest Stage, Again

Jon Neely@@iamjonneelyAnalyst IFebruary 27, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 24:  Sidney Crosby #87 of Canada during the ice hockey men's quarter final game between Russia and Canada on day 13 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 24, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Not even a year after winning the Stanley Cup, becoming the youngest Captain ever to do so, Sidney Crosby yet again has a shot at standing a top the hockey world - and he's only 22.

Most players spend their entire careers fighting for a chance at the Cup, just one shot, that's all they ask for. But Crosby, barely legal in the United States, has won and Gold Medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships, been to the Finals twice, winning once (in a game seven), and Sunday afternoon will have a chance to place an Olympic Gold Medal around his neck.

On home ice, no less.

Talk about using your time efficiently.

If there was ever any doubt at Sid the Kid being over-hyped coming into the league, he certainly silenced those critics quickly, and has accomplished more at his age than most players do in their full careers.

What is more impressive is that he's accomplished it all with the spotlight pointed directly at him, the center of attention, whether he wants it or not. There are players on Team Canada almost twice his age, but everyone looks at Sid to lead this team back to Olympic glory.

And though he hasn't stood out amongst the star-studded cast that is Canada as much as people were hoping, or expecting, he has still been effective, and come Sunday afternoon in Vancouver he has a chance to do what he's always done; win when it counts.

It must be tough for the kid, who is amongst the top scorers in the tournament but because he hasn't won every game single-handedly or scored a classic goal, he's only considered to have "played well." But this is nothing new to Crosby, who seems to find his way to the biggest stage no matter who he plays with, and has bigger expectations put on his shoulders than any other hockey player in the league.

And with the hardware he's collected already, has proven to live up to those expectations again and again.

Before the Games even began, Crosby was on the front page of Sports Illustrated with the caption "Sidney's Moment" in bold letters. Not Team Canada's moment, but his. That's the type of pressure he's under - and that's just an American magazine.

Pressure doesn't come much bigger that what's currently on him.  

So, though he's been struggling by some people's standards, his team is still in the game that matters most and he will still be looked at to be the leader of that team if they want to get a chance at biting a large chunk of Gold as the camera's flash.

For some players in yet another classic USA vs. Canada matchup, it will be the first and only time of their careers that they will have a chance to be a champion. Some players in this game will never have another shot at playing in a "One Game to Win It All" scenario again.

But for Crosby, he's been here before. Not the Olympics, of course, but in this situation is where he's at his best. He knows what it takes to be a champion, to lead a championship team to the top and to give every ounce of your body for that sweet taste of victory.

All eyes on him, always expecting him to do more, never satisfied until he's celebrating at center ice.

So yes, he's been here before.

Some might say he's struggled coming into the Gold Medal Game at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but if Crosby steps up his game in the new biggest game of his life, then he and his teammates have as good a chance as they'll ever have of being Champions - this time of the world.

Just another day at the office for Crosby, that spotlight never seeming to get too hot as he finds himself one game away from adding yet another priceless piece of hardware to his ever-growing mantel piece at home.

Everyone will be watching.

And he's only 22.