Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sid The Kid sees no evil

Following Monday's missed slew foot on Ryan Callahan in a win over the Rangers, Pens' star Sidney Crosby's character has come into question.

He's the premiere player in the game. At age 23, Sidney Crosby already owns a Cup, Olympic Gold, a Hart, a Pearson, an Art Ross and a share of the Rocket Richard. After putting up a career high 51 goals tying Steven Stamkos last season, he continues to score at a rapid rate with his 18 markers tied for second with Alex Semin, trailing Stamkos by three. With an assist in the Pens' 3-1 win over the Rangers on Broadway, Sid The Kid extended his season best point streak to 13- ripping the league apart with 12 goals and 14 assists to climb atop Stamkos (21-19-40) for the scoring lead with 41 points (18-23-41). Two-time MVP Alex Ovechkin is third with 32 and Stamkos tag partner Martin St. Louis is right behind with 31.

The 2005 No.1 overall pick has lived up to lofty expectations, recently eclipsing 200 goals. In 397 career games, Crosby already has 201 markers along with 346 assists totaling 547 points, making it almost a certainty he'll hit 600 by the end of Year Six. He still trails Ovechkin by 14 including 78 goals with the Great 8 registering 279 goals and 282 assists for 561 points. Sidney also trails his Russian nemesis in MVPs but boasts bragging rights having led the Penguins past Ovi's Caps in the Eastern Conference Semifinals en route to the franchise's third Cup. There's not much he hasn't accomplished but you wouldn't know it by the way he competes each night, never taking a shift off. He'll go into the trenches to score and always come back hard on the backcheck. Great characteristics that are easy to respect.

While he continues to launch an all out assault on the league, it's hard to ignore how the Pittsburgh captain plays between the lines. Crosby will do whatever it takes to win, even if it means bending the rules. Mix it up with him and expect hacks and whacks after whistles leading to scrums. Just ask rival Brandon Dubinsky, who during a heated game last year was swung at repeatedly after play. Ranger teammate Dan Girardi has been on the receiving end this year, all illegal. Somewhat predictably, nothing was detected by the referees. Like most superstars, Sid The Kid gets away with more which leads to hatred from opposing fans who see how he constantly works the stripes, leading to boos and chants of "Crosby sucks, Crosby sucks."

Of course, he doesn't suck. However, it's the way he acts on the ice which makes him loathed unless you're a Pens fan or live in Canada. In Monday's game at Madison Square Garden, fans were already waiting for the other shoe to drop after how Crosby's team got six power plays to their team's zero in a first meeting won by the Rangers in overtime at the Pens' brand new arena. So, when during an intense first period battle with Ranger favorite Ryan Callahan Crosby kicked the future captain's leg out tripping him to the ice, it set the wheels in motion. Ref tandem Brad Watson and Steve Kozari ignored Sid's slew foot, instead calling Callahan for interference. The honest player who represented Team USA mildly protested. Callahan isn't someone who's on the refs 24/7. You knew something was wrong. The Rangers killed ironically the only penalty on them. Trailing by a goal, Dubinsky again sounded off on his favorite target with MSG's Al Trautwig:

"That's a dirty play. He's a guy who tries to get away with a lot of that stuff. He complains a lot." Even Hall Of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch chimed in, adding:

"It's a play that the NHL has tried to get rid of. It's a dirty play."
Granted. It's our side of things. Callahan didn't say a whole lot, just indicating that it was a slew foot. It's not his style to create controversy a la Dubinsky, who despises Crosby. Is he dirty? Let's just say that the play in question was. Sid's very sneaky especially after play stoppages. You better protect yourself. Just ask Atlanta defenseman Boris Valabik, who was the victim of blatant cheap shots from behind. Remarkably, there was no suspension. Why would there be? He's the Chosen One or Golden Boy. This league has no backbone. Did they even review what he did to Cally or just ignore it? No wonder Crosby sees no evil in a Puck Daddy column which accurately depicted what happened despite skewed Pitt fans ripping Greg Wyshynski because he dared to report facts of the incident:

"How many penalty minutes do I have this year, if I'm that dirty?," said Crosby, who has 15 penalty minutes this season. "I mean, please. Show me all those dirty plays. It's a battle and he falls. I think Dubi has done his fair share of things out there that are questionable. I guess he's talking again. But I'm not surprised.
"It's a battle (with Callahan)," Crosby added. "He's holding me going up ice and I'm trying to push him off. Is it that calculated? I'm trying to get to the net. I'm not worried about that kind of thing. If I tripped him, I tripped him. Am I dirty hockey player? C'mon. I think Dubi is smarter than that."

Even if he's right about not being dirty, Sidney overlooks what happened using his 15 PIM as an alibi. Newsflash: If you were just another player, you'd likely have double the minutes. He acts exactly like a spoiled kid would. Simply because he hasn't been caught, it's okay to get away with a dangerous play which can seriously injure one of his peers. Did Mario ever teach him about respect? Speaking of which, No.66 was one of the biggest whiners in the NHL. For as special as he was, Lemieux acted very similarly, working officials for calls. The only difference is he wasn't as cheap. Crosby battles after whistles, sometimes illegally but rarely gets called.

Whose fault is it? Pin it on a league which has a double standard. Had it been Sean Avery, you know he'd have been tossed. Though this blogger does find it ironic that one of the dirtiest players in the game Matt Cooke plays on Crosby's side and can get away with the kind of despicable blindside hit that concussed Marc Savard, who finally is ready to return. It just makes you roll your eyes.

Sid The Kid doesn't need to bend the law. He's only tarnishing his reputation by disrespecting his peers. If he continues to play this way, one day he could get his. And that would be a black eye for hockey regardless if you hate him. Will he have to learn the lesson the hard way?

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