So much for the idea that athletes don't read newspaper clippings about them or their team.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, in a response to a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story Friday morning about a locker room divide regarding their captain, Sidney Crosby, stepped out onto the BankAtlantic Center ice for their morning all sporting C's on their jerseys:
Everyone's a captain - @PensInsideScoop
"Farfetched" and "not even really worth talking about" is how Crosby described reported issues in the team locker room after he skated on his own this morning; bringing up the point that had the Penguins been on a six-game winning streak instead of a losing one, would we even be hearing such rumors?
As far his teammates sporting C's this morning, it's a good sign, according to Crosby, for a team currently needing a turnaround.
From PittsburghPenguins.com, Crosby said:
"That was a nice gesture. I think especially at a time like this when things are tough and there's obviously some adversity with the injuries and with a few losses, we need to stick together. I think that was a good sign right there of sticking together.
"Whenever you have adversity I think there's always times when it's kind of in question or your team's in question, your character is in question. I don't think there's ever been a point (like that) with our group. So it's good to see everyone sticking together and I think we'll see the results out there on the ice."
The Penguins also spoke about the stunt, which was a reaction to a report that players had a meeting about a temporary captaincy in Crosby's absence. From Sam Kasan of the Penguins:
"When someone says we don't want Sid as our captain, it's pretty ridiculous," forward James Neal said. "He's an unbelievable player, unbelievable leader. He's going to be captain here for a lot of years. In the room there is no doubt that he is our leader and he is our guy. … It's a pretty stupid comment."
"It was just to have fun and loosen it up," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "(Crosby's place on the team) has never been in question, not in this room. People can speculate. If we are on a six-game winning streak it probably doesn't come up. We can only control what goes on in here.
"Sid will be our captain until he's retired. I don't know where that came from, but we had a little fun with it today."
This show of solidarity is nice and all, but the reality is that Crosby's return date is still unknown, something he reiterated to the media this morning, and the Penguins' losing streak is their longest since Jan. 2006.
Currently ninth in the Eastern Conference, Pittsburgh has battled injuries throughout the lineup this season; then again, they did last year as well, and came within a point of an Atlantic Division title and a win from advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
In the room, the mentality has to be what it was almost a year ago when Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were the two big absences in the lineup. There won't be a coach firing (the idea of that is just ridiculous) and while GM Ray Shero is known for his second half trades, a roster shakeup isn't what's needed.
The "C"oming together of Penguins this morning might be the first step in changing the course on what's been a frustrating year so far for the organization and fanbase. If that's the case, then tonight's game against the Florida Panthers, after a spirited 1-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night, is pivotal.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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