Crosby and Toews A Contrast Of Clutch

Canada is no stranger to developing, adapting and producing some of hockey’s greatest and best. In return, hockey to Canadians is what baseball, football and baskeball are to Americans. Except all blended into one. Hockey is the sport to rule them all north of the American boarder. A byproduct of just that is Sidney Crosby. Considered by many to be the best hockey player on the planet. A Cup champion in 2009, the 5 time all star led the league in goals scored in 2010 and was named captain before he was even legal to consume alcohol in America.

Crosby was it, the “reincarnation” of Wayne Gretzky. Golden child to the Pittsburgh Penguins, whom were in grave danger of liquidation due to horrific regular season records and a lapse in fan interest due to the rebirth of the Steelers.

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Four short years after his draft the Penguins won their first Stanley Cup since the Early 90’s after falling to Detroit in 6 games in the previous years final. One year later Crosby won a gold medal at the Olympics, by scoring the over time winner against team USA.

From there, things got difficult.

Crosby would miss nearly 100 games from 2011 to the end of 2012 dealing with concussion like symptoms. Repeated playoff disappointments would be the result, which only added to Crosby’s frustrations. In 2013 a rejuvenated Crosby got his team back to the Conference Final, losing to Boston in four games. 2014 saw the New York Rangers oust the Penguins in 7 games, the sting carried over to the next year. The Rangers yet again defeating Pittsburgh in 5 games.

Change was on the horizon, head coach Dan Bylsma was fired. Mike Johnson was hired and subsequently fired after a lackluster beginning to the 2015-16 campaign. Journey man and long time assistant coach Mike Sullivan was hired, with the responsibility of reeling the ‘stars’ after all they were all there. A couple of months later and Sullivan has Crosby and company back in the Cup Final.

Such an accomplishment has been largely on the back of their captain, who has clearly elevated his game. “He’s on a different level when he’s playing like he is right now” boasted Wayne Gretzky. Surely having the best third line in the league, along with the miracle success story that is Matt Murray doesn’t hurt. However, someone needs to hold the reigns and while many may argue its Sullivan, Crosby has my vote.

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Jonathan Toews has done it all. Named captain of the Blackhawks at 20 years old he’s taken his team to three Cup Finals and won them all. Captured gold twice at the Olympics, won the Conn Smythe and has been an allstar 5 times. By the way, he hasn’t turned 29 yet. ‘Captain Clutch’ as he’s often referred to is not by accident.

When Chicago is at its best, it’s usually when Toews is on the top of his game. While Crosby may play in an entirely separate city, they share distinct similarities. Both were named captain of their franchises at an extremely young ages. Chicago was in danger of folding, as was Pittsburgh before he and Kane arrived and injected hockey directly into the cities blood stream.
Since both men have entered the league, Chicago and Pittsburg’s attendance has sky rocketed. Setting the bar for memorabilia sales and overall fan interest.
Just over a decade ago, merely making the playoffs would have been a success for the Blackhawks or Penguins. Now, the expectation is to win the Stanley Cup every year. Not necessarily a small order.
Toews initially has enjoyed more successes at the professional level. After all, he has more rings than Crosby. Also, Crosby and Toews have teamed up to take on Olympic gold together.
That’s not to take away what these two polarizing figures mean to their respective cities.
Crosby is the quiet leader, the leader by extraordinary example. Certainly he’s had some growing up to do. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for Crosby to lose his temper in the playoffs more often than not leaving his team at a disadvantage. Altercations with Flyers captain Claude Giroux and Bruins captain Zdeno Chara highlight these instances. However, you haven’t seen that from 87 this year. Reporters and players alike have commented that Crosby “just wants to win” narrowing his focus to the task at hand.
Toews, on the other hand is the fiery, chirping, agitating and vocal leader Chicago needed. Since losing to Detroit in the 2009 Western Conference Finals, Chicago has made it back to the Conference Finals in 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015. Winning it all in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Losing only to Los Angeles in 2014 in overtime of game seven, nothing to be ashamed of.
Crosby and Toews are two of the sports best, both small town Canadian boys with a dream. Both have elevated their games and both have been crowned champions.
Crosby has his best opportunity to solidify super star status by once again elevating his game to a game 6 victory in San Jose, it’ll be his second Cup victory.
Either way, if you have one of these gentlemen on your team, odds are the Championships will soon follow.
Go Sharks.
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