By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette It can, Sidney Crosby says, be traced directly to his father.
Well, not entirely.
Seems he can’t really absolve his mother, either.
Fact is, while Crosby can’t know for sure whether it’s genetic or a by-product of the environment in which he grew up, he’s convinced that his ultra-competitive nature is a gift from the people who raised him.
“My dad is really competitive,” he said, smiling. “It was pretty clear whenever I would play games with them as a kid, and things like that. He always wanted to win, but my mom was quietly competitive, too.
“Whatever we did, she wanted to win. Playing basketball or volleyball, whatever she did, she quietly … I could tell that she wanted to win, too.
“Whether it was my dad or my mom, competing against each other in different things … it was funny to see that.”
It’s understandable, then, if opponents Crosby torments with his sled-dog tenacity are tempted to mutter an unpleasant thing or two about Troy Crosby. Or his wife, Trina.
Or, more likely, both.
No room for losing
It could be any team flight, going anywhere.
If the Penguins’ charter is in the air, chances are good that Crosby and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury are passing the time playing video games.
And that one of them really, really wants to come out on top.
“We always sit with each other, and he has to win,” Fleury said. “At anything. Throwing a ball of tape at the garbage [can]. He wants to win that. And if he doesn’t, he wants to play another game.”
Fleury joked that “sometimes, it gets annoying,” and added that “in training camp, I didn’t want to be on his team, so I could rob him and make him lose.”
Fleury was kidding – probably – and learned long ago that he shouldn’t take Crosby’s fierce desire to win personally.
After all, it’s not only about video games or training-camp scrimmages or who can fling a wadded-up piece of tape most accurately.
Put Crosby in any setting in which a score is kept or a winner can be determined by any means, and he’ll respond the same way.
“He doesn’t like to lose … at anything, really,” winger Beau Bennett said. “All the best players really have that in common, that competitive edge. Not just in hockey, but whatever they do, they want to win.
“He gets competitive with golf, which is fun when you play it the right way. He loves that.
“Even when we have a three-on-three game and say his team is down or something, we’ll take it from a best-of-three to a best-of-five.”
Crosby’s competitive ferocity can’t be quantified, but probably contributes as much to his on-ice accomplishments as his exceptional hand skills, instincts and conditioning.
What’s more, teammates say, his attitude can go viral.
“In practice, it makes me compete for every puck,” Fleury said. “It pushes everybody else in the room to play hard, in practice or in games.”
Crosby said he isn’t sure precisely when he realized the passion to compete had consumed him, but vows that it’s not a trait he plans to shed.
“As you get older, you realize that some people shake stuff off a little easier than others,” he said. “I just didn’t like to lose at all. I didn’t really accept that.
“I’m not saying that it’s not going to happen, but I’m definitely going to do everything I can to avoid it.”
Crosby devotes a lot of time to community and charity work, publicized and otherwise, and sometimes that pits him against children in any variety of athletic events.
When he’s delivering season tickets, it could lead to, say, a game of ball hockey in the family’s driveway.
Crosby understands that it’s good form to let the kids do well – maybe even [gasp] win – and he complies, but he’s not entirely a soft touch in those settings.
“Even with kids, I like to challenge them a bit,” he said.
“As a kid, I liked to be challenged, too. Maybe that’s why I feel that way.
“Everybody’s different, but I think I definitely … it’s not the easiest thing to let that go, or to let somebody beat you.”
Crosby, who has had countless epic battles since entering the NHL in 2005, singles out Hall of Fame center Peter Forsberg and Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg as the two most competitive guys he has faced as a pro.
“It’s pretty feisty [playing against them],” he said. “At times, pretty intense. Those guys are guys you really go head-to-head against [as a center], taking faceoffs.
“You see them all game, all over the ice. It’s not like a defenseman you might have a couple of rushes against, or maybe you’re in the corner with him the odd time. You play the same position, and you’re going up against him every shift.”
Predictably, Crosby appreciates the way guys like Zetterberg go all-in every time they hop over the boards.
He also says the satisfaction that comes with success is enhanced when he’s battled an opponent who’s fully committed to besting him.
“I respect them, but I want to beat them,” he said. “At the end of the night, when you’re able to win a game like that, it’s definitely more rewarding when the guy across from you is competing the way those guys do.
“It’s always nice to win, but especially when you’re going up against guys who you know take pride in trying to beat you and really want to shut you down, that’s when it’s rewarding.
“Guys who really, every night, you know you’re going to have to be at your best to beat them, as a player or as a team, that’s always a great feeling when you’re beating an individual or a team that has that mentality.”
Sounds as if Crosby should have a pretty good idea of what it’s like for the rest of the NHL to go against him.
Which just might be what Mom and Dad had in mind all along.
Dave Molinari: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @molinariPG.
"He and his family were and have been so good to me. As an 18-year-old, it's not an easy adjustment to those expectations, and they were there for me, helping me. Mario was there hockey-wise, but his family made me feel comfortable right away. When you're comfortable off the ice and you feel at home, on the ice becomes pretty easy. That was really important. Obviously, who wouldn't want Mario Lemieux to be able to lean on for questions and for advice? It's funny, though, all those hockey things are one thing, but the things I remember the most are probably when he took me to find a good suitcase to travel with on the road because I didn't have anything like that coming from junior. Whether it was telling me, 'Hey, this is how you dress on the road; you can't wear sneakers with jeans.' If he says jeans, you can't wear sneakers. I remember I wore sneakers with jeans on one of my first trips and everyone was laughing and going, 'Hey, what is he doing?' I'm like, 'I thought you said jeans.' Coming from junior, we wore track suits. It's little things like that that he could help me with. If I had a question, he understood it all."
sakky: Watching games this season is so weird with no audience. It just isn't the same. Anyone else feels the same?
Mar 2, 2021 1:04:35 GMT -5
Jan 22, 2020 19:08:55 GMT -5
Ginger: Happy New Year everyone!
Jan 1, 2020 12:52:21 GMT -5
lm: Merry Christmas Everyone!!
Dec 29, 2019 11:27:40 GMT -5
Snarky: Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is having a great day
Dec 25, 2019 18:23:29 GMT -5
matdina: Oh Sidney was on surgery. Get well soon.
Nov 15, 2019 1:22:21 GMT -5
cherie: Going to game in Boston tonight. Haven't been to a game in awhile so can't wait. Hope everyone on the site is well. C.
Nov 4, 2019 13:41:58 GMT -5
isi: Anybody know where i can watch the games online?
Oct 16, 2019 20:02:33 GMT -5
sakky: Good luck onn the fantasy league everyone. Bit more than I can chew at work the next couple of months and I barely have time to play anything.
Sept 15, 2019 13:14:00 GMT -5
Snarky: Sorry I missed the fantasy hockey deadline. I tried to join yesterday but was having trouble with my phone data. I meant to do it when I got home and connected to wifi but forgot. Good luck to everyone 🙂
Sept 14, 2019 21:28:15 GMT -5
lm: oh right! KLC - will do
Sept 13, 2019 11:15:21 GMT -5