Saturday, April 26, 2008

Is Crosby a diver or just a putz?

To cap off the Rangers' collapse in the opening game against the Penguins, Sidney Crosby drew an interference call which led to the game winning goal on the PP. This, of course, was New York's fear. That Sid the Kid's would make a difference in this series not by his stellar skill, but by whining and diving the Rangers into shorthanded situations. Sure enough, after a whistle happy first period, Crosby drew two of the three minors called in the final 40 minutes.

Don't get me wrong. This is not a post about how the refs gave the game to the Pens. It was interference. Marty Straka's sin wasn't so much trying to skate his line in front of Crosby's, but he stopped moving his feet. The right to your line pretty much disappears at that point. Sure Crosby embellished the contact, but it's more upsetting that the refs went for it that late in a tie game. Sometimes a slow arm by a referee isn't such a bad thing. If Scott Gomez doesn't break up that rush, then that's a real scoring chance negated by the interference. But that wasn't the case, no matter what Michel Therrien says.

The whole row got me thinking. How can one superstar be so loved (Alexander Ovechkin) and the integrity of another (Crosby) be questioned by hockey fans? least by those located outside of Western Pennsylvania. Isn't what's so great about the sport is that no matter whose team colors you bleed, you always admire an amazing play or player?

Sidney Crosby is like that annoying guy in rec league that plays balls out every second he's on the ice. You know Johnny Hustle Hockey. In his head, every beer league game is game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Body position means nothing. He'll try to skate through you rather than give up on the puck, forgetting the fact we all have to go to work the next day. What a turd. You can't wait until you catch him in the corner so you can smear him. That's a body checking penalty your teammates will gladly kill because they hate Johnny Hustle Hockey too.

There's a certain disrespect in playing hustle hockey. Are you really so competitive that you're willing to risk injuring someone or yourself (because invariably Johnny Hustle Hockey always skates a million miles an hour with his head down) to win a meaningless game? Is winning more important than sportsmanship?

Crosby leaves me with that same feeling of disrespect. Granted the stakes are much higher in the NHL. Anyone who doesn't play with the energy of Johnny Hustle Hockey will be back taking bus trips in the minors. No, Crosby's disrespects the game in a different way. He willing to do almost anything to win. Unfortunately, that includes embellishing penalties to gain a man advantage and working the refs so that the next borderline infraction goes his way.

Compare that the game's recent greats - such as Yzerman, Sakic and now Ovechkin - who had to battle have through a lot traffic. It was even worse for those in the "old NHL". Those guys showed the same dogged determination, but would never dream of leaving their feet if it looked like they weren't going to win the puck. And they turned around and back checked, instead of glaring at the referee.

I recognize Crosby is a highly skilled player and he's going to draw some very legitimate calls, but I don't want to see refs tricked into calling penalties by him or any other player. In my book, that's cheating just the same as a hook or trip, except diving isn't a last ditch effort to break up a play. It's a big F you to the refs, the fans and the integrity of the game. And it's even more egregious when it's someone who doesn't need to embellish to make a difference in the game.

That's why I don't like Sidney Crosby. And to answer the question at hand, Crosby is both a diver and a putz, and a whiner to boot. What a turd.



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