Via Chris Nichols of Today’s Slap Shots, NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman on Sportsnet 690 this morning called the Penguins organization “paranoid” at the top and he can’t be more right in how it trickles down to the team, implicating that the pressure is caving in on Sidney Crosby.


Here’s what Friedman had to say today during his radio segment.

“You know, I have to tell you – honestly, the thing that stood out to me the most on Saturday night – and I don’t know how carefully you were watching the game – but there was a shot of Sidney Crosby sitting there on the bench and he looked morose. Just stressed out. Morose. And there was nobody sitting next to him.

“They won the game. They didn’t play great. I look at this – you know, Crosby wears it. He cares a lot. He wants to do well. The team is struggling – at least they’ve got two wins now. But he still doesn’t have a point and I can just see that the pressure is caving in on him. And somebody – and I don’t know who it is – just needs to get him to relax. Because when you’re the best player, and you’re the captain, the whole team feeds on your mood. And I can just see that Pittsburgh team – it is so tense.

“And you know what. Some of it I think is the organization. At the very top of that organization I think they create a very tense environment and it goes down from there.

“But Crosby, he needs somebody there who can just say to him, ‘I know it sucks. I know you want to get points. I know you want to help the team win. But you can’t look like that. You’ve got to loosen up.’

“And it’s better for him too because you can’t – it’s very hard to be any kind of a productive human being when you’re that stressed out.

“So the thing I took the most out of that game – is he is just in a terrible mental place right now.

“The thing about Kessel and him is – Kessel is a guy, if you look at his points, they’re long passes. They’re on the rush. They’re him on the weak side. Crosby is, ‘Let’s get in tight. I’ll make the 10-foot pass to you, and you’ll score.’ And I think the two of them are really struggling to take those two different styles and make them compatible. And they have to work with each other to say, ‘How am I going to help you,’ as much as, ‘I need you to help me.’ “

On the Jagr/Lemieux Days

“I remember those days and I remember once asking Ron Francis about it. He just took a shot at people who were complaining about it. He was like, ‘You know what? If you’re a professional and you’re like these guys are, you know what you need to do to win.’ And they proved it. They won two Stanley Cups in a row.

“But I just remember two years ago, when Brooks Orpik left the Penguins and he went to Washington, one of the things he said was it had stopped being fun playing there.

“And I just remember he said that, and I asked a couple of his teammates about it. They wouldn’t go on the record and they hemmed and hawed a bit, but they said, ‘He’s not wrong.’

“I was just so struck by this shot of Crosby the other day.

“And you know what. You remember during the summer we had the conversation about Malkin and I do believe some of the heat I took was fed by Pittsburgh ownership. And I just think that that organization, at the top, is really paranoid. And sometimes I think that filters down.

“And I just looked at Crosby the other night, and he just doesn’t look like – even when you’re struggling, and struggling sucks… when you’re the highest-paid guy, and you’re the captain, you wear it because you do cares. He cares a lot.

“But I just think at some point somebody has to be able to say, ‘Hey, you’re not helping the situation when you’re like that. You’re making it harder on yourself. You’re making it harder on your teammates.’

“And Crosby is a great player. We’re going to look back at this start of the season where he’s got no points, and we’re going to laugh and we’re going to say, ‘Remember when you had no points?’ when he’s charging up the scoring race.

“But somebody needs to get to him and say, ‘Hey man, you’ve got to relax. It’s too hard on yourself and it’s too hard on your teammates.’ “[/hide]