I never really thought about this, but Joe Thornton from the Bruins says he can kind of relate to the whole Sidney Crosby phenomenon.
Thornton, you’ll recall, came to Boston with crazy-high expectations of him. Pat Burns, his coach, negated these expectations by playing Thornton in very controlled, short bursts. And a lot of people agree that’s what kept Thornton from becoming another casualty of the supercruel hype machine.
Crosby doesn’t have the luxury of that kind of buffer, but watching him right now against the Sabres, I kind of think he probably doesn’t need one anyway.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh’s nervous goalie (and like Thornton, a former number one draft pick), called up from the AHL for the Buffalo game, probably could have used a buffer in 2003-2004, when he sort of wilted under the pressure of backstopping a truly horrible club.
Obviously, Pittsburgh is now a slightly better club and there’s a different focal point on the ice.
The Sabres beat Pittsburgh, 3-2 in overtime.