Johnston: Teammates need to do more to help Crosby

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Sidney Crosby is the reigning Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner, but whether or not the Pittsburgh Penguins will win the Stanley Cup in 2014-15 will depend on far more than just his performance.

New Penguins head coach Mike Johnston seems to think that Crosby has done his part to make the team a success and it’s up to his teammates to do more to help him out.

“You don’t ever question his work ethic,” Johnston told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You don’t ever question his commitment. For a guy his age coming into the NHL and carrying the load that he’s carried, I believe he’s done a phenomenal job.

“Do we have to lessen the load? Yes. We have to ensure that other players on our team take some of the responsibility off his shoulders — both in leadership and also in performance. He is a captain, and he is a leader, but it doesn’t all rest on Sid.”

Crosby obviously isn’t the only major offensive threat in Pittsburgh, but the team’s balance has been put into question. GM Jim Rutherford has attempted to address that with the acquisitions of Steve Downie, Nick Spalling, and Patric Hornqvist. If Pascal Dupuis and Beau Bennett can stay relatively healthy this season after missing large chunks of 2013-14, then the Penguins’ depth might be less of an issue going forward.

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that this team is incredibly dependent on Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They can’t win the Cup by themselves, but Pittsburgh will have a very hard time staying competitive if those two aren’t at their best.