Thursday, November 4, 2010

Do you want your team's star player to fight? has an interesting article opening a discussion about whether or not it is good for fans to see their team's star player fight. This was in response to Crosby's fight with Matt Niskanen last night. Funny that Datsyuk's fight with Perry, or Malkin's fight with Nash didn't get this kind of press, but I guess that's the nature of the beast.

Some interesting stats regarding Crosby fighting. In the ten days after each of his fights, his team's record was as follows: 8-1-1 following the Ference fight, 4-5-1 following the MacLean fight, 7-3 following the Ballard fight (including 4-3 in the playoffs), 5-5 following the Zidlicky fight. That's a combined record of 24-14-2, or 50 out of a possible 80 points, for 62.5%. That equates to a season total of 102.5 points. The 40 game sample represents a higher points/season average for the team, which has averaged 93 points/season during Crosby's 5 years. Discounting his rookie season, when he did not fight, the team has averaged 101.75 points/season. Not a huge improvement, but noticeable. Even more interesting is that the Penguins went on to win the Cup in the year Crosby fought two different Panthers.

It is an easy argument to state that missing a player the magnitude of Crosby harms the team during the game, as they are without their best player for at least 5 minutes. And it is a very valid point as well. However, the fact that the leader is doing the dirty work, taking the matter into his own hands and trying to fix the team's woes seems to wake the rest of the team up. This is the key, this is what makes a leader great.

The ability to ignore shortsightedness.

Crosby stepped in to fight Ballard after Ballard crushed Malkin into the boards, sending him flipping over himself. He wasn't just mad that his linemate and friend was hit in dramatic fashion. He wanted to show to his team that everyone needs to step in to protect each other if they want to win. That he was not bigger than the team, that he too could be the guy to dive into the corners for the puck, block shots, take his lumps. The team responded very well.

Bob McKenzie seems to think it was simple frustration for Crosby, who has no fights in the third period of any game in the NHL. Pretty bad timing to take yourself out of the game if it's simply frustration, eh?

Yes, I'm sure Crosby was frustrated, but that was not the purpose of his fight. It was to send a message to his team, take a stand, and bring himself back down to the level of the Rupp's, Adams', Asham's. The role players.

We will see how the Penguins respond.

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