In 2005, the Penguins won the draft lottery which gave them the first overall pick in the NHL draft. It was a no brainer as to who they were going to pick. Sidney Crosby was the most hyped player entering the draft since Mario Lemieux twenty years earlier. This was going to be a banner day for hockey in Pittsburgh. The next "Great One" was going to fill Lemieux's throne and carry the Penguins into a new era. Growing up, he idolized Steve Yzerman, probably one of the classiest players in the history of the game. The teenage Crosby was also going to be living with another class act, Mario Lemieux. Pittsburgh thought that had a combination of class and skill, but over a few years, what they found out they had, was a real life version of Shooter McGavin.
For those of you that don't know who Shooter McGavin is (and shame on you if you don't), he was a character in the movie "Happy Gilmore". McGavin was an incredibly talented golfer that believed he was the best and that it was "his time". When things were going well and he was on top of his game and winning, he always said the right things, smiled for the cameras, etc. However, when Adam Sandler's character Happy Gilmore showed up, things started to go down hill for McGavin and his demeanor changed. There was some question as to who the better golfer was, the aggressive, physical Happy Gilmore who owned the best shot in the game and loved to showboat? Or Shooter McGavin who simply couldn't handle losing and did everything in his power, legal or illegal, to win? Hmmmm... do these two sound like anyone else we know? **cough** Ovechkin / Crosby **cough** Man, this cough is terrible.
I had heard a rumor in which Crosby said to Ovechkin, "Just stay out of my way... or you'll pay! LISTEN to what I say!" and Ovechkin responded with "Hey, why don't I just go eat some hay, make things out of clay, lay by the bay? I just may! What'd ya say?"
Crosby's antics are tainting his image and ruining him. I noticed this early on in his rookie, year, but I figured he was just trying to make a name for himself. Even Lemieux was feisty in his rookie season. But as the years went on and Crosby gained more responsibility, nothing changed. If anything he got worse. The real eye opener was Game 4 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings. The Penguins were down 2 games to 1 and needed to win at home. The Wings were up by a goal late in the game and the Penguins were going on a 5-3 powerplay. That's when Henrik Zetterberg made one of the most incredible defensive plays in the history of the Finals, defending Crosby and knocking the puck off his stick. Had it not been for that play, Crosby would have easily scored and tied it up. Zetterberg went on to dominate on the penalty kill and the Wings won the game. After the game ended and the Wings were skating to their locker room, Crosby, the captain and poster boy of the NHL, goes after Zetterberg, gets in his face and starts talking trash.
That was my first indication that something wasn't right here. The next season, Crosby was going head to head with his rival Alexander Ovechkin in the second round of the NHL playoffs. In Game 2 in Washington, Ovechkin scored a hat trick, putting his Capitals up 2-0 in the series. After the game, Crosby, who scored a hat trick of his own in that game, complained about how many hats were being thrown onto the ice after Ovechkin scored his 3rd goal. Seriously? Would he be complaining about how many hats hit the ice if he scored a hat trick at home? I didn't think so. As the hats were raining down, some Caps fans said they could hear Crosby yelling, "Damn you people. This is hockey. Not a rock concert!"
Later in the same playoffs, Crosby met the Detroit Red Wings and Henrik Zetterberg yet again. Crosby started off the game with a blind side hit on Zetterberg, you know the kind that gets you suspended... oh wait... no it doesn't. Just ask Matt Cooke.
Zetterberg, however, shut him down yet again and the Wings won Game 1. After the game ended and the Wings were headed off the bench to congratulate Chris Osgood for his win, Crosby decides to slash Kirk Maltby in the foot. Now granted, it was a small slash and Maltby has probably feels more pain from a stubbed toe than this slash, but what is that about?? You're the captain of a championship caliber NHL team. You CANNOT do stupid things like slash a player after the game is over. When the series switched over to Pittsburgh and the Penguins got back into the series, everything was fine with Sid. The Penguins looked strong, everything was going his way and then Game 5 happened.
The Wings got off to a fast start and began to rout the Pens. Crosby, out of nowhere decides, he's going to two hand Zetterberg in the knee:
There's another Pennsylvania team that plays hockey like that. "We're not going to win, so we'll just injure you to make sure we win the next one". I've always said that kind of sportsmanship has no place in hockey and always cheer against whomever plays against the Flyers. You should want to beat your opponent when they are at their best. Trying to injure your opponent to give you an advantage in the game is cowardly.
Last night was just another example of Crosby being a sore loser. Once again, Zetterberg shut down the Penguins captain and held him pointless. In the final seconds of a 3-1 game with Crosby on the wrong end of the scoreboard, he just flat out assaults Zetterberg with his stick and starts punching. The Detroit faithful rained down chants of "Crosby sucks" during the fight. I wonder if he was thinking to himself, "Damn you people. Go back to your shanties."
THIS is garbage. Talent wise, he's unbelievable and without question one of the best in the game. But his character really comes into question when he acts like a thug. Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Wayne Gretzky, Guy LaFleur, Joe Sakic... these guys never did anything like this. They were talented AND classy. They respected the game and the players in it. They didn't take cheap shots at opposing players that were getting the better of them. They just worked harder, became better players, which is why they eventually became unstoppable. Crosby needs to clean up his act if he ever wants to be mentioned in the same breath as the players I mentioned above. However, if he stays on this track...