Saturday, March 31, 2007

Gary Roberts: Crosby's Motivator?

The secret of Crosby's success: Confidence, freak-of-nature physical ability, and Gary Roberts?

Kevin Mcgran of the Toronto Star looks at Sidney's turnaround:

We just we gained a lot of confidence," star Sidney Crosby said yesterday. "You win five, six in a row, you beat good teams, you gain confidence.

"For a while it seemed like we couldn't lose. We were just finding ways to win, whether it was getting huge saves or coming back and winning the shootout. We couldn't lose."

While others in the Eastern Conference, like the Leafs, treaded water by winning a few, then losing a few, the Penguins went on a tear. They went 14-0-2 from mid-January to mid-February. A team loaded with teenaged talent, and players in their young 20s, wasn't thinking about the future. They were thinking about this year.

Adding Roberts in a deal with Florida and getting Laraque from Phoenix in trade-deadline deals simply made sense.

At 6-foot-3, 243 pounds, Laraque gives Pittsburgh an intimidating presence.

"His presence has been felt since his first game," says Crosby. "He's a great guy in the room, he's a great guy to have around. On the ice, he creates space, he can play. For a big guy, he can make plays, he's got great hands, he can really protect the puck."

Roberts, as Leaf fans may be aware, is an influence on and off the ice. He has four goals and six assists since coming to the Penguins.

"His experience is something that we definitely welcome," says Crosby. "He just leads by example out there and anybody can't help but follow the way he plays, especially this time of year. He shows a lot of grit, he's definitely helped us a lot."

At 40, Roberts is able to remind the young guns of the Penguins that youth is fleeting but a commitment to fitness and healthy eating can prolong and enhance a career.

"Guys are working a little bit more," says Crosby. "He makes you feel bad, when you're 19, 20 and I think he's 40 and he's hitting the weights twice as hard as anybody else.

"He's a great role model. You couldn't get a better guy."

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