I’m very much pro-Sidney Crosby. I think he’s the best player in the world, I think he’s mature and sensible off the ice, and I think he’s a good role model. But man, that was some grade A bullshit from him last game, wasn’t it? He seemed to entirely forget there was a massive playoff game at stake, and found himself all-consumed by Flyer-hatred. There could’ve been no puck out there and he would’ve been just as effective.

In a presser today, Dan Bylsma called Crosby’s antics “calculated,” remarkably without sarcastic air quotes. His post-whistle spats were as calculated as getting rear-ended in your car.

I wouldn’t have thought his performance was so bad if he didn’t wear the “C.” He does hate the Flyers, he does want to punch their noses through the back of their heads, and sometimes it’s okay to let that be known. But you pick your spots in hockey, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that done as poorly as Crosby did.

Hockey is a physical game, and things happen. Sometimes you want to snap your stick over your knee and impale someone with the sharper half. The problem is, it’s also a team game, and the goal of every team is to win, not injure people. So, you can’t very well act on your every whim, take penalties and lose, then hold your head high in the locker room. You’re only as strong as your weakest link, so if you’re the link that keeps snapping, you’re kind of messing up the fence.

You have to wait until the next time you play that team to physically settle scores (which you should never do, of course, but let’s put our naivete’s aside for a second), preferably when the score is 6-0. Maybe it takes a few games. You never know how long you’re going to have to wait, but you write your list like Steve Buscemi in Billy Madison and wait. The time is never “when it’s 5-4 during the crucial third playoff game on the road as the captain.” If his actions were indeed “calculated,” he’s horrible at math.

Everyone wants to play like Crosby did at times – selfish, angry and petty. If you’ve ever been to a game and felt true adrenaline (as fans at that one likely did), I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like to be in the game. It’s very hard to compose yourself and drive that energy in the right direction. True pros can.

Think of some of the best captains in recent NHL history: Nick Lidstrom. Joe Sakic. Steve Yzerman. Reserved, mature, smart men. There are other types of captains, of course, but the best of them are able to sense when their team is losing control, and rein it in (and vice versa, which was not the issue the other night). At the very least, they wouldn’t go out and set the example that it’s okay to lose track of the moment and have fun between the whistles.

The coach is partially responsible as well – Bylsma should’ve called a timeout somewhere when the Penguins were losing their heads – but on the ice, the Pens should expect better from Sid. This was the moment they needed him to score the big goal, tie the game up, and think about the right things instead of getting distracted.

(Part of me thinks Crosby may have had some effect on the play of James Neal, who was playing like a man possessed. When Crosby and others started focusing on the garbage, he did too. He had two goals, one assist, a billion hits and was a plus player yesterday, still had extra energy to give more, and chose to put it towards violence instead of the hatty. If his captain is channeling his energy better, maybe he is too. Who knows?)

It was easy to forget the score at times, even when it was close. When Crosby grabbed Hartnell by the back of his jersey and started a scrum from nothing for no reason, the Pens still had a chance to win. Where were his priorities?

I like when players are passionate, and love to see it boil over from stars once in awhile. But you pick your spots in hockey, and yesterday was an opportunity for Sidney Crosby to choose to lead. He failed to.

Comments (31)

  1. True that Sid was borderline psychotic through much of the game (and not nearly as effective at creating scoring chances as stirring up trouble), but I’m not sure the Hartnell blow-up is on him.

    When I watched it, I thought Hartnell was headed toward another Penguin (I think Neal) with some malice intended and Sid grabbed him by the back of the jersey – not to start something but to hold Hartnell back. Predictably, it escalated and next thing you know, they’re wrestling and Adams is in there throwing punches.

    I went online to take a second look and the feed I saw was from NBC, which gave an entirely different view from the TSN telecast. The NBC feed was focused on Simmons going after Neal until Cros/Hart were already in mid-wrestle and Adams had the first haymaker coming.

    Interesting example how the video source might change your perspective on what happened.

  2. Hmm, noted. Yeah, the feed I saw made it look like Sid grabbed him at random. Still, it was more than the one instance for Sid. Stuff like the triple-whack at Bryzgalov’s glove just seemed…unnecessary, poorly timed.

    • Hartnell was pulling Crosby’s stick and wouldn’t let go before Crosby grabbed the back of his jersey. Crosby needs to be a better captain and talk with his play on the ice, but you can’t say his actions were completely unprovoked. Hartnell is a sneaky bastard (and a damn good player).

  3. Yep, you are spot on – Pens turned over all of their power to the Flyers and it began with their Captain. So uncharacteristic for Sid to go in that direction instead of toward steely resolve, but there’s no denying it.

    I just have to wonder if his inability to actually captain his team for the better part of 2 seasons hasn’t contributed to him being somewhat lost in the leadership woods. Tough time to regain his leadership chops in the crucible of playoff hockey.

    • How is it uncharacteristic? THis is what he always does. He has been a cheap whining player since entering the league. The only difference here is that he is facing a team that won’t back down from it and doesn’t care about the refs trying to protect him. The same thing happened in a previous game against the RAngers where they got in his face about diving; he started running his mouth and had an explosion where he was useless.

  4. Jesus. Letang looks like a vampire eyeing up his next kill in that pic

    • He was, he was. You know what happened next, right? Timonen had never fought once in the NHL. Until Sunday.

  5. Despite all of that, his knocking away of Voracek’s glove was classic. It was like the old wait til your buddy gets to the car door and hit the gas trick. Loved it.

    • Classic? More like classless. Is he the captain of a professional hockey team or a petulant child?

      • It was hilarious, if you can’t laugh at that you need to find yourself a sense of humor

        • Except that you’re eventually going to let your buddy in the car, and he’s your buddy. If this was rec league, and Sid and Voracek were hitting the bar together after the game, then yeah, it’s funny and harmless. In the NHL it just seems kind of petulant and pointless.

    • I thought it was funny, and found it interesting how when who was it, Burish(?) threw Tanner Glass’s glove into the stands a couple weeks ago, all the comments I saw thought it was hilaaaaarious. But a stick-move of a glove is “classless” and “petulant.”

      (Honestly, not sure if the Glass/Burish thing was even posted on this blog, so I’m not necessarily calling “sincere” and “nightfly” hypocrites. No idea what you two thought of it; maybe you were just as offended then. Just the internet in general is kind of showing its hypocrisy on that one.)

      That said, the rest of it, gross. But… the glove was pretty funny.

      • Fair reply, Liz. I don’t remember seeing the Burish-Tanner thing here, but we talked about it in one of our threads at Lighthouse Hockey. (FWIW, the general consensus was that Burish was a tool. It starts here and goes down the line for about eight comments.)

        This was definitely milder than that, since Burish actually tossed the glove into the stands instead of just swatting it along the ice.

  6. Crosby is a joke and a disgrace to the NHL and the PENS he has never stopped whining like a baby since he came into the NHL even Mario had to tell him to stop so has Don Cherry. He is a cheap shot artist and not that good at it Like to hit guys in the Head from Behind pick fights. He has NO CLASS AT ALL.I think he should be suspended for his antics the other day.For someone who has suffer with 2 head injuries he sure is looking for his 3rd and would not feel one bit sorry if he goes through another one that takes him out of the NHL.Crosby showed his real colors YELLOW (WHAT A COWARD ) Reminds me of the so called great one who hide behind Cement Head and MC STUPID the Head Hunter . The Great one did the Same pick a fight than tail between his legs.Crosby should Lose the “C” and never be allowed to wear it again til he at least grows up and has a set of Balls.Crosby you say it was no problem pushing the glove away you would have been crying to the Ref. Crosby you don’t like him or any of the Flyers you poor Baby want mommies shoulder to cry on you baby. GROW THE HELL UP Crosby YOU IMMATURE WHINING LITTLE BABY

  7. Something I’m really curious about but haven’t seen any discussion of yet is that Crosby started, or even better, *instigated* that scrap with Giroux, but kept his helmet with its visor on while he was throwing uppercuts.

  8. Also, what good would it have done Crosby or his team if Hartnell caught him with an uppercut? Concussion problems nearly cost him his career and he’s going to play goon? Just dumb.

    Also, I love the 6-0 comment. I don’t know if it was intentional or not but that was the score in favor of the Isles when things really got ugly in the imfamous Isles-Pitt brawl game last season.

  9. Crosby was born into the NHL with a silver spoon in his mouth, and now somebody has come along and yanked it out, and Sid’s pitching a fit. Take a lesson from a GOOD young captain like Toes, or,lets face it, G, because he basically is the Flyers captain now.

  10. Justin,

    Bylsma had already used his timeout when his team went down 3-1 (at 11:45 of the First) – he couldn’t have used it to calm his team down later in the game. Not that this excuses any of his team’s behavior, mind you, nor does it excuse his role in events – simply that this option was not available to him.

  11. My question is what does Mario think of this? After the tounge lashing he gave the NHL in his open letter, he has to be embarassed. To see Sid, with his injury history, starting scrums instead of skating away? Turn the other cheek Sid. If Sid plays his game instead of his best Matt Cooke impression, the Pens are in that game, and have a chance to squeak out a win. Instead he can’t contain his emotions, and starts acting like a fool.

    Turn the other cheek. That’s all it takes.

  12. I loved every minute of it. I also love the fact that every person, broadcaster, analyst, blogger who had Pittsburgh in Stanley Cup finals, that all fans can laugh in they’re faces. Please every stop sucking on Crosby’s stick. Yes he is very talented and probably the best player in the game right now. However in the end he is still a coward and can’t fight his own battles. He starts them and then runs behind his team. As good as he is or can be, a Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe he is not.

  13. Since you played hockey I would expect you to know that “for no reason” will never be apparent to a television spectator. What’s said and done on the ice can’t be caught on a camera or even on a mic’d player. Shame on you..

  14. Thanks, JB, you made a lot of sense, and certainly touched on many thoughts I have had, especially exactly what you said about Neal… what a waste!
    And here is, not an excuse, but maybe an explanation, of how out-of-control Sid has seemed:
    Traumatic brain injuries can have some very obvious, but often very subtle, effects on personality and self-control, reaction to stress, etc. Maybe there is some of that at work in the whole mess. I agree that there might have been reasons we couldn’t see, for some of his actions. Yes, Hartnell will usually do whatever he sees he can get away with, to influence events. BUT THEY ALL KNOW THIS! ARGH! And yes, where WERE Dan and the other coaches? Not keeping the ship on course, that’s for sure!
    Anyway, it’s too bad that Sid couldn’t be the steadying influence in these games, instead of the cause of a couple of needless, unproductive scrums. I especially feel bad for guys like Sullivan, who were so happy to be in the playoffs with a team that looked to go far.
    Yes, I’m a Pens fan. A sad and very disappointed one.

  15. Did no one in the media notice that Malkin, the man who was/will be the Hart and Art Ross trophy winners completely disappeared last game? WTF sports writters stop picking on Crosby, at least he showed up and brought it.

  16. Crosby’s amazing skills are contrasted by his lack of character. Unlike Yzerman, Sakic and others mentioned above he simply lacks the kind of maturity, dignity and respect those leaders displayed from the first day they came to the league and yes, we are talking about from age 19. Why not call it as it is. He is spoiled and is used to his immature antics getting him what he wants. His history of diving and whining are evidence and while he gave this all up, so what, he alone built his reputation and has a long ways to go to master his control with his cheap shots and acting out. I’m sorry, but in terms of skills, he sure is something, but as a role model? Forget it. There are plenty other honorable mature players to look up to.

  17. I repeat what I said in my other comment for other post. I cannot be thinking that if the captain in question would be someone else, at least part of comments would be different, more close to the lines that it is good that captains are involved in game. At least that is what I’ve usually seen.

    Anyhow, I do not mean that I’m thinking that what he did was smart, which is of course is way easy to say now after we have seen what happened afterwards. Whatever the purpose might have been or might it have been calculated or not, the result appeared not to be good at all.

    I wonder what the comments would be like if the result would have been different.

  18. The fence? Surely you mean the chain, man. No, I didn’t just call you Shirley.

  19. well im proud that he is sticking up for himself instead or letang doing all the work

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