Sidney Crosby is a gift to us all.
I know what you're thinking now...
"OH SHURE HOCKY JOE! U R A BETMAN SUCKUP!! LOLZ!1!"
Right, sure, whatever.
Like it or not, Sidney Crosby is awesome and the NHL is a million times better off having him, his talent and his presence around than without it.
Is he over-exposed? Maybe to NHL fans, but not to the world that's for damn sure.
Is he a great player? Fuckin' A right he is.
He's phenomenal and his talent is a once-in-a-generation kind of talent and we're blessed as NHL fans to have three other players in the NHL that are on that same kind of unearthly level of talent (Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Lidstrom).
Are NHL fans pissed that three of those four players are playing in the same series in the second round? Maybe the jerk-off fans that are self-loathers are - but me? I'm tickled. Gary Bettman is tickled too, no doubt, because he gets to see the two prizes he cares about most finally have their "Bird vs. Magic" series.
Never mind that it's taking place in the second round, that's irrelevant. What matters is that it's happening and, as of right now, it's absolutely electric.
Just like most things in the NHL, sometimes things happen that help amp up the story. Sometimes when superstars collide, the best is brought out of them. Case in point, Game 2 of this series. Hat tricks from both of the superstars (their first hat tricks in the playoffs) including this stirring series of bombs from Alex Ovechkin:
As it goes, as it has always gone, when you're the home team and your home guy nets a hat trick, the hats come out on to the ice. It's a tradition that's been around since the dawn of time (give or take an epoch) and it's awesome. Flat out, it's awesome.
Unless you're on the visiting team.
Enter the man in the white uniform and the black hat, Sidney Crosby.
From the DC Sports Bog:
"People kept throwing hats," Sidney Crosby said tonight. "I was just asking if he could make an announcement to ask them to stop. I mean, the first wave came and then I think they were all pretty much picked up, and then more started coming. So for us, we just wanted to make sure we kept kind of moving and kept the game going, wanted to try to get back in it. So wasn't complaining about anything."
Listen, I get that he's being the captain of the team. That's good, that's fine, that's the admirable thing to do. He's also being brutally honest with the press when asked about this.
As a person who has done plenty of sports interviews and gotten nothing but Athlete-speak from them, to get a freaking gold mine of a quote like this is awesome because then jerks like me cite your website, give you more hits and all that fun.
No, they ain't sippin' on some sizzurp - that's straight Haterade.
When your name is Sidney Crosby though... Stuff like this gets a lot more run. Like it or not, Sid's got the reputation for being a whiner. As a fan of hockey, it sucks more than life itself to see that one of the most marketable guys in the league, the like-it-or-not face of the NHL is labeled a big pansy bitch.
That sucks a lot and it drives me nuts to see Sid continue to do things that feed into this image. I want him to be Captain Cool, I want to see him make people that hate him shut up by delivering every damn time. I want him to be The Terminator and crusher of souls. As an NHL fan I want the biggest name and the league's icon to be the man.
Simple as that.
In a series that features the two guys that are fighting to be the A #1 icon of the game, some folks might point to this game as the one that separates them for good. They both deliver hat tricks in stunning performances. Ovechkin with his bomb shots and Crosby doing the down and dirty work in front of the net putting home rebounds.
Had the Penguins won this game, Sid would rightfully be getting the praise for throwing a change up at the Capitals and doing things differently. Sure, maybe that quote gets some more run, but at least that can get spun off to make him more of an honest-to-badass villain. Like, say...
"Hey ref, tell these chumps to stop throwing hats - this game is fucking over with because I said so."
Cutthroat? You better believe it. Cocky? As hell. Bad-ass? Hell fucking yes it is.
Instead, reality deals us a Capitals win with Ovechkin waving his junk at everyone because he's that damn good. In his case, being a Russian helps add to his allure. The interviews are tougher to do with regular schmoe reporters because his English skills are mostly limited to Athlete-Speak.
The one time he did let loose was in an interview with Maxim Magazine and he was instantly villified for what came out there.
Thanks for nothing mainstream media. Dicks.
So now what's the fallout from this for Crosby? He unfortunately solidifies a reputation that's already been made bad enough to handle by a well-paid PR firm.
After all, when you're playing a rough game like hockey where there's a delicate balance between being a cocky braggart and cutthroat competitor, being a crying wuss wins you no favor and makes the job of sticking up for your boy even harder.
At least if I was Sid, I'd be happy to have the guys at The Official PensBlog on my side, I'd hate to see how they'd handle having that kind of ammo to use against him. For that alone, I'd hope to never leave Pittsburgh without a Stanley Cup or two if I were him.
What kills me about all this is that I enjoy how Sid plays the game and he makes it so incredibly difficult to love Sidney Crosby the player. Whether it's the opinion of the other players that he's a whiner or the consistent cries from fans all over the NHL that he's a diver on top of all of that... It's incredibly hard to embrace him as the MAN when there's a guy doing all of those things that you admire playing against him. It creates an instant divide amongst fans.
You're either a Sid fan or an Alex fan.
Simple as that.
When you're put on the spot after a tough game, a tough loss particularly, and you're getting a thousand different questions about the game and someone mentions the other guy, the other big gun outshining you for a night and you're frustrated that you couldn't do more than your own three goals and your answer is to just blurt out that you wanted the officials to make an announcement about the hats being thrown on the ice for the other guy's hat trick...
The best way for Sid to answer all of this is to flip the script and do it right back and let the fans at The Igloo shower the ice in hats. Then to do it again the next game and not relent.
Sid's shown us he can wear the Black Hat and be the villain by driving hockey fans nuts with these things like whining and diving, now it's time to fully embrace the darkside. Be comfortable with being thoroughly hated in places like Philly and Washington and New York.
Score that game-winner in overtime some night and then proclaim afterwards that you knew you'd get it all along. Sid is referred to as "Bing" over at PensBlog, but I'd rather seem him break out something a little more like another cocksure legend:
Is it wrong to want all of our new hockey heroes to be bad-asses? I don't think so.
Snap out of it already Sid.