Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Great Crosby Debate

Hermano here.

[Edited on 06/09 due to mi Hermana's superior memory - for the record, she smoked me every single time we played that ridiculous game Memory when we were kids.]

My law school friend has a blog about the Kings and, being a relatively new fan to hockey, wondered why people either hated or loved Sidney Crosby. She solicited people to write for or against Crosby. After reading the first two submissions, I felt compelled to respond.

Read the first pro-Crosby entry HERE.

Read the next anti-Crosby entry HERE.

Here is my response:


Debating about Crosby is like debating about cats: you either love cats or you hate them. People either love Crosby or they absolutely despise him. I certainly don’t love Crosby, but I definitely don’t despise him. This is my submission for the pro-Crosby camp.

Let’s start by saying that I am a Kings fan and do not own, nor have I ever owned, a single piece of Pittsburgh Penguins memorabilia. (In my book, hockey cards are not “memorabilia” for purposes of this discussion. Therefore, my O-Pee-Chee Premier Jaromir Jagr rookie card, which is, sadly, the most valuable card in my antiquated collection, does not count.) I have never cheered for the Penguins, even as Jagr and his mullet were crushing it with Lemieux back in the early 90’s. Even as the Penguins were on the brink of beating the hated Red Wings in 2009. (Actually, I cheered when Fleury made that unbelievable save on Lidstrom to win the Cup – not because the Penguins won the Cup, but because it was the most clutch save I’ve ever seen in my life.)

So why am I in the pro-Crosby camp? Because every single hockey fan out there wishes his or her team would’ve drawn the Number One pick in the 2005 Draft, a.k.a., the Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes. [1] In other words, every single hockey fan wishes Crosby played for his or her team. If not, they’re fucking lying.

Yeah sure, you’ll probably argue “I’d rather have Ovechkin than Crosby” on my team. But would you argue “I’d rather have Eric Staal than Crosby” or “I’d rather have Toews than Crosby”? Benoit Pouliot was still on the board. Hell, I’m a lifelong Kings fan and I’d trade Kopitar for Crosby (straight up) any fucking day of the week.

Would I do the same for Ovechkin? Probably not – the guy is one dimensional. Teams shut him down by limiting his shots on net and forcing him to pass – something that’s not in his nature. Apparently, the only way to shut down Crosby is to throw a blindside hit directly in his face. Don’t tell me Steckel’s hit wasn’t dirty – it’s the same hit that Torres slammed on Eberle, only Torres is a ginger and gingers deserve to get suspended. And don’t tell me you’d rather have “any other player than Crosby” playing for your team. Would you rather have Phil Fucking Kessel than Crosby?

People argue that Crosby isn’t tough. If this is your argument, then did you bitch back in the day (assuming you’re old enough to remember) when Gretzky was lighting up the NHL? Did you complain that Gretzky isn’t tough because he just cherry-picks the blue-line, he doesn’t hit anyone, and he doesn’t fight anyone? It pains me to state the obvious, but not every hockey player is put on the ice to start a scrap with someone.

Crosby haters like to argue that he showed his lack of toughness for not bouncing back after getting concussed back in January. Haters argue Crosby should’ve shaken off the cobwebs in his head and played the rest of the 2011 season. The fact is that Crosby got his shit rocked on January 1st and suited up for the next game four days later, only to get his face slammed into the glass, compounding his injury and forcing him to miss the rest of the season. If you argue that he should’ve toughed it out like Eric Lindros, then hear this: I guarantee Lindros can’t remember what he had for breakfast today, let alone anything that anyone might have said to him the day after Scott Stevens ended Lindros’ career. There’s a reason the NHL has been cracking down on headshots and teams are taking extreme precautionary measures for players dealing with concussions: SO THEY DON’T ALL END UP LIKE ERIC FUCKING LINDROS!

If I’m the owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins and I’m sitting on the billion dollar lottery ticket known as Sidney Crosby, I don’t care if Crosby is pointing a gun to my head and telling me he’s fine to play the rest of the season – I’m not risking it all just so that the face of the NHL can prove to his critics that he’s tough enough. I’m not sending him out there until I have every doctor in a 2,000 mile radius telling me that Crosby is 100% good to go. I’d be fine forfeiting one season in order to ensure many more seasons with Crosby. (Which is, apparently, what Pittsburgh smartly did.) It’s not like Crosby pulled a Jay Cutler and quit on his team during the biggest game of the season. [2]

You want to know the reason why I’m in the pro-Crosby camp? Because he’s a team player. There’s a great story in Gare Joyce’s incredible book Future Greats and Heartbreaks that I’d like to mention. Apparently Jonathan Toews[4] and a few of his junior hockey teammates were criticized for getting preferential treatment taking a chartered plane and getting comp’d a hotel while the rest of his team schlepped it out overnight on the team bus to the next event. When asked about it, Toews said he didn’t think twice about it and didn’t think it was a big deal. Joyce compared this to his dealings with Crosby (when he wrote his book on Crosby), saying Crosby would go out of his way to make sure that he never stood out above his teammates. When Crosby landed his enormous sponsorship deal with Reebok before he was drafted to the pros, he made sure the company outfitted his entire junior hockey team with new gear.

Yeah yeah, it’s just one story and with the money Crosby received from Reebok he could’ve bought a new plane for his junior hockey team instead of having them ride on a bus. We’re all suckers for feel-good stories and I’m no different. But we’re not talking about a lone story that deviates from the norm. Even during HBO’s coverage of the Winter Classic, there is no way a true hockey fan could dislike Crosby. I was prepared for a face-palm-worthy HBO dick-sucking fest of Crosby for four straight episodes – yet it never happened. The guy is the face of hockey for a reason: he’s not some stuck-up athlete clamoring about not hitting the incentives in his multimillion-dollar contract.

Why do I want Crosby to succeed (unless it’s at the expense of my Kings)? Because I love hockey. Anyone who can appreciate the game of hockey knows deep down that Crosby is one of the most skilled players to play the game in the last decade. He makes the game better in almost every way and hockey is better off with him around doing his thing. [3] He absolutely KILLED me when he scored that overtime goal against Ryan Miller in the Olympics. A piece of me died that afternoon. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to hate him for bringing America’s Hat a gold medal.

These days, when baseball is dealing with post-roid fallout, basketball players are ditching cities to create Voltron-esque squads, and football is about to miss a season because the owners love how much pie they’re eating, I’m fucking sick of the NHL staying the fourth most popular sport in America. I’ll gladly accept seeing Crosby’s mug and conquistador-esque moustache everywhere I go in order for hockey to be in the hearts of every American.

Much love till my next post.

[1] For you new hockey fans, the entire 2004-2005 NHL season was cancelled due to a lockout resulting from a labor dispute. NHL Entry Drafts are usually conducted by having the team with the worst record select first, and so on (although one team that didn’t make the playoffs in the prior season will win a lottery and move up four spaces) until the team who won the Cup picks last in the first round. Since not a single fucking game was played in 2004-2005, every team was given one to three balls based on prior playoff appearances and first round picks for the last three years prior. The balls were drawn to determine who would be picking first, second, third, etc. Therefore, every single team had a chance to win the first pick, i.e., Sidney Crosby.

[2] I should also note that I’m a huge Chicago Bears fan and did not appreciate Cutler’s mopeyness during the NFC Championship game.

[3] With the exception of diving, of course. But then again, all players have been known to take dives. (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, DREW DOUGHTY!!!)

[4] Mi Hermana pointed out that it was Kane, not Toews, who took a plane (with Sam Gagner and other top prospects) for certain playoff games while the rest of the team rode the bus. Personally, I love Kane because he punches cabbies and apparently doesn't put up a big fight when ladies want to steal his shirt before taking pictures with him. But that's another post for another day.


Marie said...

I believe it was Patrick Kane, not Toews who had all that shit comp'd.

Stephan White said...

it’s just one story and with the money Crosby received from Reebok he could’ve bought a new plane for his junior hockey team instead of having them ride on a bus


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