November 04, 2010
Wednesday night, Matt Niskanen(notes) became the latest member of the "I Fought Sidney Crosby" society. Coming up, a look back at Sid's five NHL fights and the various reactions from his dance partners after dropping mitts with the Pittsburgh Penguins captain.
The Situation: Ference finishes his check with Crosby, who pushes back; they jostle before dropping the gloves, with Crosby bloodying the Bruins defenseman when Ference's head hit Crosby's visor.
HockeyFights.com Verdict: Crosby, 70.8% of the vote.
Opponent reaction: Here's Ference in a 2008 interview with ESPN:
Q: Last month you fought Sidney Crosby in his first NHL fight. How did that fight start?
A: I wish it was a better fight, since I get to talk about it so much. It started like any other fight. I finished my check on him in the corner and then he punched me and I punched him back, then we fought. I was surprised it was his first fight, because I've seen him punch guys before after he gets hit. I figured someone else would have grabbed him and started a fight. It would have been a fight no matter who it was because that's the way hockey is supposed to be -- if you give a guy a shot in the face, you better be willing to drop the gloves to follow up with it.
Q: What kind of reaction did you get from friends, fans and the media after fighting with arguably the game's biggest star?
A: My sister called me, she's a teacher in Alberta, she told me she has been getting a hard time from her students [laughs]. My friends kind of laughed and said they wished it was a little longer, they wanted more punches thrown. Guys on the team have thought it was funny how much exposure it got, especially since they think it was the worst fight I have had this year.
The Situation: A humiliating 6-1 loss to the Panthers caused much frustration for the Penguins, as Max Talbot(notes) fought Gregory Campbell(notes) off a faceoff and was followed two seconds later by Crosby jumping McLean to earn an instigator and a 10-minute misconduct. As we said at the time:
The last time we saw someone get jumped like this by a Kid, Ralphie's mother dragged him off of the school bully while he was crying. And just like Scut Farkus, all Brett McLean gets are a bloody nose and a very public embarrassment.
HockeyFights.com Verdict: Crosby, 48.6% of the vote.
Opponent reaction: McLean infamously disagreed with Crosby's depiction of the fight, which had Sid asking him if he wanted to go and McLean saying yes. From the Miami Herald:
Did you discuss fighting him? "We had not, at any point. It was as surprising to me as it was to you guys."
Did you ever see it coming? "No I didn't."
Was Sidney jawing at you earlier in the game? "Before the face-off, like I told you yesterday, he was saying something but I didn't really hear it. I didn't know what he was saying, didn't really pay attention to it."
Did you ever say yes to him as he said? "No, I mean, I don't know where that came from."
HockeyFights.com Verdict: Ballard, 72.0%
Opponent reaction: Ballard was actually quite cool with this fight, according to the Miami Herald:
"Usually after something like that you have to expect that someone is coming. He kind of just came to me, so I got my gloves off quick. I think it's a clean hit, I don't know if they do or not. But that's part of it.
"They were on the power play, so they didn't have a bunch of tough guys out there. I expected someone to come, I didn't know who it would be. He's their captain and he understands that no matter who it is, you have to do something. He's an intense player, competitive. At that point of the game, that was pretty much the right thing to do."
The Situation: Some rough stuff behind the net leads to a couple of slashes between the players, which leads to Crosby and Zidlicky dropping the gloves and losing the helmets. Crosby lands a few stiff shots before the linesmen break a land-speed record in breaking up the fight.
HockeyFights.com Verdict: Crosby, 74.4%
Opponent reaction: Zidlicky's comments weren't easily located, so here is Wild beat writer Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on the fight:
Marek Zidlicky won a big battle tonight with Sidney Crosby. He got inside Crosby's head. Zidlicky tripped up Sid the Kid behind the net, and Crosby just lost his mind. Remember, a few years ago, Crosby sustained a high ankle sprain getting tripped up, so I think he just got angry. When they came together again, Crosby slashed Zidlicky. Zidlicky two-handed Crosby. And then the two dropped the gloves. So in a crucial point in the game, Zidlicky took Crosby off the ice for seven minutes.
"Ever since I went into the boards with my ankle ... he took my feet out like that," Crosby said. "I don't like that. It's a bad feeling.
"When that happened, I think it just kind of ticked me off a bit and I kind of went after him a bit. That's not something I want to make a habit of, but I don't like getting tripped up going into the boards like that. It's pretty dangerous.
"I don't know if he dropped his gloves first. We were kind of pushing each other at the start, but I was a little ticked off at that whole sequence."
Nov. 3, 2010: Crosby vs. Matt Niskanen, Dallas Stars
The Situation: It was a 4-1 game slipping away from the Penguins in Dallas, and Brenden Morrow(notes) fought Kris Letang(notes) in a scrap that saw Letang hang on to protect a just-healed hand. Crosby decided to light a fire under his team with a second-period fight off the faceoff.
HockeyFights.com Verdict: Crosby, 68.8%
Opponent reaction: Via ESPN Dallas, here's Niskanen:
"I never saw that coming," Niskanen said after the Stars defeated the Penguins 5-2 at American Airlines Center. "We were up 4-1 and he was probably trying to get the team going. He asked me to go and we went.
"I didn't say a word to him all bight. I wasn't on the ice with him all night. I made sure he really wanted it and we went. It happens."
"I think he probably picked me out," Niskanen said. "Maybe I was the smallest guy out there. I don't know."
Asked how he fared in the fight, Niskanen had this to say. "I got him hard once in the helmet, if that counts," Niskanen said. "He's pretty strong on his skates and he probably had the upper hand a little bit."
"Morrow went after Letang there, so it was just a response, sticking up for Tanger," said Crosby, who entered the game with only four penalty minutes this season. "I don't think you really need to fight him there, but that's all it was."
Thus ends our look back at the many fights of Sidney Crosby. Please keep in mind that perhaps his most famous scrap was not technically a fight, although we imagine Boris Valabik's twig and berries would miss the nuance in that argument.