What to make of Sidney Crosby

Few others have had every move as crucially dissected as Sidney Crosby. (Dinur/Flickr)

Tim Kolupanowich: Not even 25 years old, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby is the best talent the game has seen and yet he has been more maligned than any player in recent memory. He has worked diligently to improve his game and has already won almost every award possible and yet NBC Sports analyst Mike Milbury called him a “little goody two-shoes” and told NHL players “screw him, hit him.” He captained a Stanley Cup winner and scored in overtime of the Gold Medal game and yet Philadelphia Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube called him the dirtiest player on the team.

People either love him or they hate him, there’s no in-between. Personally, I flip-flop on him all the time, I just can’t make up my mind about him. Sure, he doesn’t whine nearly as much as he did as a rookie, but there is still all that hacking and whacking behind the play he said he’d stay away from. I love his skill and dedication towards getting better, I can’t wait to see how many points he is capable of putting up, but I think he can do without the needless stuff. He has had some cheapshots in his career which have been documented so I ask, what do you make of his behind-the-scenes play?

Jeff Blay: There’s no doubt Crosby does get involved in extra-curricular after the whistle from time to time, but if nearly every player on every opposing NHL team was gunning for you each shift, what would you do? Crosby is the player teams like to annoy the most in attempt of getting him off his oh-so-dangerous game. Although he may commit some acts of cheapshotery, I’m sure he receives just as much in return – or to begin with, for that matter. What we have to take into account here is the fact Crosby is the most watched and dissected player in the NHL – I’m sure many other players are worse than he is but, it’s just not as noticed.

TK: There’s no doubt there’s more attention on him than any other player in the league, not just from media and fans, but from the opposition as well. And with so many player gunning for him as you pointed out, it’s good to know he can take care of himself, not to mention taking away the need for a goon-type player on Pittsburgh. Check out his page on hockeyfights.com and you can see he’s definitely not afraid to play physical. As for the whining, he definitely does, but it’s his job as captain to do so. He’s not nearly as bad as he was during his rookie season.

JB: Absolutely agree. Even Crosby himself admits he was exceptionally vocal with the officials at the beginning of his career, but has since calmed down. And you’re spot-on about dialogue with the refs being the responsibility of the captain – or assistant captains for that matter. Take San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton for example. I watch the majority of Sharks games each season, and I’d be willing to bet Thornton is just as vocal with the refs as Crosby is, yet he’s still respected as a classy leader. As Jumbo Joe isn’t a major media focus and plays in a relatively quiet market, people never complain about him “whining.” Thornton’s not a saint when it comes to plays after the whistle either.

TK: Without a doubt. Show me a play who never takes liberties after the whistle and I’ll show you a career minor leaguer. But I think a lot of it is people remembering what he did early in his career and not forgetting it, no matter what he does now due to a hatred that stems largely from jealousy. He did complain a lot when he was a rookie, he didn’t come out for a post game interview when the Penguins lost in the Stanley Cup final (at least the feed I was watching, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) and he didn’t get around to shaking Nicklas Lidstrom’s hand the next year when they did win. But whatever the criticisms he battles and trains very hard for everything and, now this is the important thing, has never asked to be in the national spotlight. Not once. So what is it about him that you think irks people the most?

JB: Jealousy definitely has to be a part of it. I find it’s a common theme with any superior athlete – some people even hated on Gretzky, and I’ve heard the same things about other athletes such as Tony Hawk and LeBron James. It’s almost trendy to hate on someone popular. All of the things we previously talked about could be contributors, but when you’re talking about a player that’s insanely fun to watch and insanely skilled who is also essentially the ambassador for the sport, jealousy definitely has to be the main reason people complain about him.

TK: For sure. Greg Wyshynski put it best in the article above, Crosby is an “awe-inspiring talent mixed with an attitude and behavior that’ll agitate you with the fury of 1,000 Esa Tikkanens.” Superior skill and attitude won’t win you many friends outside your own fanbase and media market, but he should probably be getting more respect than he does. Just keep in mind I’m an American Flyers fan with a Team Canada Crosby jersey hanging in my room. I believe the word you used when we were in Toronto was “blasphemous.” But he’s played hard and earned my respect, just like everything else he’s earned in the league.

What do our readers think of Sidney Crosby? Let us know in the comments section. 


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