Tuesday, April 17, 2012

If Crosby falls, so does the world

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Anyone who saw even five seconds of highlights from Sunday's pulse-pounding 8-4 Flyers victory in Game 3 knows at least one bold fact: Sidney Crosby done lost his mind.

And the best part was, it didn't seem like he even knew he, or his teammates did.

“No, I don’t think we did. I think there were many times throughout the second we bounced back and if anything we guys were just trying to hold things together and show a little fight."

Pressed a little further, the petulance started to emerge. Referring to the incident where he obviously and intentionally pushed the glove of Jakub Voracek away from him as he bent to pick it up after a scrap:

"It was near me and he went to pick it up and I pushed it.”

And why would he do such a thing?

“I don’t like them, because I don’t like any guy on their team."

While it's true that this type of atmosphere isn't unlikely between any two rivals in the National Hockey League, it stands out all the greater that THE premier talent the league wants to showcase as often as possible resorts to grade-school playground tactics when things aren't going his way.

And when your leader starts setting examples like this, of course the soldiers are going to follow suit, pantomiming that irrational frustration and parroting the same lies.

To wit, James Neal, who faces not one but two separate disciplinary hearings in New York today for his dual third-period strafing runs on Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux:

"I didn't even mean to hit him. I don't even know if the puck was at his feet or not, I don't know where it was, if he just chipped it. I let up as much as I could. It is what it is."

And "it is" the class and restraint behind hard postseason action going straight down the toilet, led by a player who looks more like he's wearing a plunger on his head than the "C" on his upper chest.

Crosby was clearly trolling in that first period, going from Flyers player to player in an attempt to goad someone into dropping the gloves during the first scrum. In that he even failed, drawing Giroux -- an opposite but equal force who held up well under fire -- to head with him into the sin bin for five minutes.

So, aside from the 0-3 series deficit, we know for sure that the 24-year-old from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia used a national television broadcast to basically spit in the face of the cachet he was given.

And what was his explanation for helping steer his team down the vortex of chippiness?

"Yeah, guys are emotional and there is a lot of stuff going on out there. There is no reason to explain. I don’t have to sit here and explain why I pushed a glove away they are doing a lot of things out there too."

Really? If not for his own actions, he might want to explain why Craig Adams felt like he should have to grab onto the back of Scott Hartnell's hair during a late third-period rumble. Or why Evgeni Malkin has decided to channel his hidden lumberjack behind the play for three straight games whenever a Flyer draws near.

Or what Mario Lemieux, who has gone out of his way to criticize fighting in the league when it affected his team, had to say to him behind closed doors. As Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported on Tuesday, Le Magnifique was visibly upset with the decorum his players showed in defeat.

Crosby has to know better, and why he showed that he doesn't, is as mysterious as the Holy Trinity. For one, he has a target as big as a city block hanging on his back simply by being in the upper echelon of star players. Plus, he is just one questionable hit -- one angry, vengeful opponent with an elephantine memory -- away from most likely blowing up his career.

And does Gary Bettman envision what he'll do in a league without #87? Nero didn't know what he was gonna do if Rome ever burned but he sure adapted quickly.

Heading into Game 4, the nonsense has got to stop. If you want a reason why the first round has devolved into Thunderdome, look no further than the Golden Child making a mockery of his kingdom.

He should take the back end of this quote from former teammate Max Talbot to heart: "Sid is a bit like me, he does everything to wake up his team, but he has ten times more talent."

Because it's the talent, not the stupidity, that has led the Penguins out of the abyss before. And it's only his talent that will override the cavernous deficit staring back at his club and restore the respect he, and the league, has lost in just one week's time.
Post a Comment