Crosby 'our top player': Yzerman
By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
Pittsburgh Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin (71) celebrates with teammates Sidney Crosby, rear, and Jordan Staal after a game-winning shootout goal against Detroit Red Wings recently. The Penguin teammates will be going head to head at the Olympics. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
VANCOUVER — Sidney Crosby won’t be wearing the “C” for Team Canada at these Olympics, but Steve Yzerman still thinks he’s close to letter perfect.
Yzerman, the architect of Team Canada as executive director, compared the Pittsburgh Penguins captain to basketball superstar Michael Jordan Saturday and offered a glittering assessment of his game, saying Crosby is as close to the perfect hockey player as it gets.
Believe me, Yzerman said, he’s looked closely for any defects.
As the Detroit Red Wings vice-president of hockey, Yzerman and the rest of the Wings’ braintrust tried to find dents in Crosby’s armour in the last two Stanley Cup finals.
“His game has evolved every year. He’s a complete player much like Michael Jordan in basketball. Every year they tried to find something wrong in his game and he got better and better at everything. Not that anyone has ever criticized Sidney’s game, but you’ve watched every part of his game improve. We’ve seen it firsthand to our dismay in the Stanley Cup finals last year. Whether it be faceoffs, now he just got his 40th, 41st goal last night. He’s a complete hockey player. He does everything well and he’s really, really driven and really, really motivated,” sadi Yzerman, holding court with the assembled media for the first time here.
“He’s one of the leaders of our team, he’s one of our top players. You can say he’s our top player. That’s obviously not overstating it. He’s an incredibly driven player, who’s a complete guy that the coaches can use in any situation and play any type of hockey. From playing against him, we have a great understanding of his strengths and I would say of his weaknesses, he has no weaknesses. We know him. He’s going to be one of our leaders, on and off the ice, his presence, he’s the face of Canadian hockey, one of the faces of the NHL.”
While mild criticism might have been able to be directed toward’s Crosby’s goal-scoring and faceoff ability in the first couple of years of his career, he has blossomed in both this season.
The 22-year-old Crosby is second in the NHL in goals this year with 41, already a single-season high for him, going into last night’s games, and third in the league in points with 76.
His faceoff percentage is 56.6% this season, 11th in the league, and he has won 749 faceoffs this season, almost 100 more than second-place Paul Stastny.