Puck Daddy - NHL

One week ago, we posted a Puck Daddy mini-doc called "The Hate and Love of Sidney Crosby" which predictably sparked a number of discussions and debates about the Pittsburgh Penguins star here and around the Web.

(Regrettably, the conversations frequently veered off into lazily researched accusations of editorial bias; petty personal attacks; and blatant falsehoods about the construction and conception of the video that could have been cleared up with a single courtesy email. But it's the Web, after all: Showing a modicum of class, swallowing pride and correcting the record is always a tougher gig than disingenuous indignation. So thanks to those who offered clarifications and corrections when presented with the facts.)

Again, as we said last weekend: Crosby is a player who elicits reactions that are all over the map. We've argued that he's an underrated player, at the same time we've analyzed his reputation as a diver. We've linked to stories about his delivering season tickets to fans, and had a guy talking about his charity work in the video; we've also slammed him for nailing a guy in the goods during a fight. We've called around Pittsburgh to make sure bars were doing drink specials for his 21st birthday and helped spread the legend of his "visor moment" with Marc Savard; but we've argued for well over a year that he's better marketed as a villain than a hero.

Judging our coverage of Crosby based on a post about snide Washington Capitals fans' signs, and based on some of the points made in the mini-doc, is judging without consideration for context or appreciation for the respect we have for the Crosby's talent and resiliency in the face of criticism.

One of the major complaints from Penguins fans about the video was that the fans we choose to feature weren't a fair representation of Crosby's supporters. While we feel that's in the eye of the beholder, we also felt it fair to give the dedicated, angry Penguins fans that flooded our inbox in the last week a forum of their own regarding the mini-doc, the player himself and all the tangential controversies that arise when the spotlight is placed on Sid The Kid.

With that, the floor is turned over to some damn passionate Sidney Crosby fans, who gave us a piece of their minds, a boot to the backside (we've edited some of the unprintable language and immaterial personal attacks), as well as some really interesting insight as to why they choose to root for and respect Sid the Kid.

First up is Puck Daddy reader Ivan D.:

Way to continue to exploit this whole thing with the Crosby hate to get more traffic. Congratulations. Why don't you just rename the blog to Crosby Jumps Guys Off Faceoffs? You know because, obviously, since he did it ONCE, he does it all the time, right?

Way to pick and choose the fans whose interviews you thought were interesting too. You mean to tell me that guy at the beginning was the most eloquent Crosby supporter you could find in an arena full of 17 thousand Pens fans?

You just don't get it when it comes to Crosby. Sid would never embrace the role of a villian just because the fan bases of the Flyers, Capitals and Rangers, along with people like you, have spread all this hate and ridiculous theories, insults and Photoshops about him. To even suggest that he SHOULD do that is incredibly dumb. Why should he even be interested in that? Last season, tickets were selling for 10 times the price in Edmonton and Vancouver when he made his first trip over there, and the Penguins have the 3rd best road attendance in the league this year. He's also 2nd only to Malkin in scoring and points per game at 1.38. So why would he care to embrace the role of a villain?

And why haven't you ever dug deeper to find out who the most notorious Crosby haters really are? Because if you did, you would realize that the fans of the three aforementioned teams lead the way, and it's not even close with the rest of the league. What do the Flyers, Caps and Rangers have in common? They've been tortured by Crosby since he entered the league and the Rangers and Flyers both lost to Crosby and the Pens in the playoffs last year. The Caps have 4 wins in 16 games against Pittsburgh since the lockout, and their fans have been hungry for a little bit of attention for years and hate the fact that Crosby was the "chosen" one by the league instead of Ovechkin.

And while I'm at it, the NHL made the right choice - Crosby never would have embarrassed himself with a celebration like AO's the other day, and the guy HAS delivered -- he is not "overhyped" -- he had 222 points in his first 2 seasons alone as an 18 and 19-year old for God's sake! And unlike Ovechkin, he has actually won in the playoffs and led his team in scoring in the postseason, coming 2 wins away from the Stanley Cup.

Dude, you don't even understand Crosby's interviews. The guy simply doesn't care that much what fans across the league think of him - he cares about winning and being the best player he can be. If you care to be the villain or the hero, you're just not gonna get very far in the NHL. If he cared about it, he wouldn't be able to put up 100 point seasons every single year. Oh, and about that, the guy is working on his 3rd 100-point season (would be his 4th if he hadn't gotten hurt last year) and he's not even 22 yet and you think it's hard to find Crosby supporters? Are you [expletive] kidding me? There's a reason the guy set a record with 1.7 million votes for the All-Star game - he plays hard, he plays to win, and he is incredibly skilled.

Is being humble and giving politically correct answers in interviews really all that bad? Playing that interview of the 2 old ladies saying Crosby is humble makes it seem as if you don't think that's a good thing or that it's lame and old school to act that way. I'm 24 and I prefer my team's captain to be humble too. It's not always the best and sometimes I wish he let us know what he really thinks and wasn't afraid of getting into a war of words, but he's ABOVE that sort of thing. And at the end of the day, it's a good thing about him. He's not all about himself, either, like Ovechkin, that's why he's more modest. And if he started acting like AO and started to show off, then he would REALLY open up the floodgates and he'd be hated a lot more than he is now.

From Crosby fan Shawn Duffee:

I know your (sic) stirring up controversy around Sidney Crosby is just to generate ad sales. But, your piece on Sidney was absolutely not right. Every team has a bunch of fans who should not be quoted. We can't help we have a few idiot fans who live in other cities that dress up like penguins, fans who just jumped on the bandwagon or fans who know nothing about hockey. How about targeting the guys who write in the faceoff-factor about there opinion on Crosby.

About Crosby being a villain... Villains don't care, the only reason you have any controversy over this "whiner" BS is because he does care. If you would actually watch a game where Crosby might happen to talk to a ref, I assure you there is a good reason for it. Do you see what happens to the guy when people don't want to get burnt buy him? If he did not stand up for himself or his team, he would not be doing his job.

Society's tends to bring the bigger man down. Now with internet, it seems to snowball faster than when Gretsky (sic) cried to the refs back in the day. Fortunately for him, he did not have to deal with Puck Daddy & the other hundreds of blogs that have thousands of readers.

Have you actually ever watched the guy play? I challenge you to write something about him that is true.

You should do a piece on how physically strong he is when fighting for pucks off the boards.

You can have vids of the hundreds of ridiculously amazing plays he made that did not result in a goal.

Or how he took a pay-cut that allowed the penguins to build a team around him.

You could also right about the programs he started with Dick's sporting goods that allows kids to play hockey who can't afford it.

You can also write about him visiting the Hospitals in Pittsburgh area very often.

You can also write about the little things he does for the fans like delivers pizza to student rush or tickets to season ticket holders.

You could write about how he should have MVP, if he had a scoring winger on his line instead of grinders like Dupuis & Talbot.

You could write about his potential, he is only two games away from re-taking the point leader and possibly the MVP.

You could write about Crosby having a full season with a scoring winger next year... No Contest... AO who?

Then again, that does not feed the illogical famine monster made up of the hypocrites in your comments section.

Oh, BTW, Have you ever been in a fight? Fighting can be compared to being drunk. You only tend to remember the first couple shots. everything else blurs out from there. I really don't think Crosby went into that fight intending he was going to punch someone in the sack. Nobody talks about the abundant of cheap shot punches to the face many players get away with in just about every other game.

From Crosby fan Tim Titus:

I have read your column for a long time and generally enjoy it, but I am compelled to write you to express my outrage at your recent video about Crosby supporters.  I could simply mention all of the reasons your video presentation was biased, stupid, etc., but I will leave that to others.  My anger is because one of the women you included in your video clip is a close family friend.  You will not find a nicer person on planet earth and because she is a Pens fan and likes the Captain of her team, who took it to the Stanley Cup Finals the year before, you mocked her. 

Instead of asking the Caps fans why they are so fascinated with Crosby when they have their own great players to cheer for, you took a cheap shot at someone who shows up and cheers for her team.  Asking the supporters of a team why they like their Captain and second leading scorer is an inept journalistic choice -- particularly since these people care enough to go see their team at an AWAY game.  The people who need to justify themselves are the ones who spend hundreds of dollars on "Crosby Sucks" jerseys....these are the people who need psychological counseling.

Hope you enjoyed your little joke -- maybe next time ask the Caps fans in attendance to explain the hand pass rule, since Doc Emrick had to correct the crowd on National TV when they did not understand the rule.  Or maybe ask them why they only get passionate when the Caps are winning -- since the last three years they could not bother to come out and watch one of the greatest players in the world.  Better yet -- why don't you go interview people with Pacifiers and rattles who come to games?  Ask them why their lives are so empty and pathetic that they think wearing this stuff in public is not beneath their diginity. (sic) I have Caps season tickets and there is not a greater group of bandwagon fans on planet earth.

I also want you to consider this -- isn't the point of your video that the level of vitriol aimed at one of the leagues top players is insanely high? Then why aren't you talking to those who HATE him. Of course, that would require you to show some level of thought.

From reader Jon Lavia:

After wasting my time reading this piece that you have recently posted, I can't help but feel the need to send you some sort of feedback I would rather not leave for fodder amongst the neolithic commenters wetting themselves over yet another free shot at the horrible human being Sidney Crosby.

First of all, some more thorough research probably wouldn't kill you. Come to Pittsburgh and interview real fans here, not the most ridiculous looking  'fans' you can find at a Capitals game. Our actual fans have a vast understanding of the game of ice hockey and know exactly why a talent such as Sidney Crosby is indeed every bit as valuable to this team as Evgeni Malkin. A simple browse of the NHL's results over the last two weeks could provide you with some pretty good insight as to how Crosby's healthy return has helped take the Pens from 10th to 6th place.

Maybe you could also consider the fact that Crosby has spent 3/4 of this season playing with third line wingers yet he is still right in the scoring race with the great and powerful Ovechkin, who is perhaps the most selfish player I have ever seen in my life as a hockey fan. He converts 10% of his shots to Crosby's 13.5%. He has far less assists and is a notorious cheapshot artist to boot, which you pass off as passion. However, you will ostracize Crosby for being upset with the officials over bad calls which many people would say demonstrates his passion to WIN, not just find himself on Sportscenter for netting a goal in a 5-2 loss. Still, you choose to pile right on the Crosby hate wagon.

How about the fact that Crosby is one of the toughest players in the league to take off of the puck?  I guess it's easy to hate a player who actually knows where the corners are and can be frequently found there digging out the puck as opposed to cruising around the blue line waiting for an outlet pass. But I guess that is just his lack of passion too?

I am aware of your inherent hatred for Crosby and the Pens, but that doesn't justify the continual bashing of a 21 year old kid who had the weight of the hockey world placed squarely upon his shoulders at the ripe old age of 18 and has handled it more class and dignity than 99% of kids his age would. I am also aware that bashing him helps you to get some hits on your site seeing that hating Crosby is right up there with the state of the economy on people's to do list anymore. But with all of that understood, I still can't fathom how you can put this smear of an article up without at least stating some of the plain and simple facts about the positive effects of Sidney Crosby as a player, a captain, and a role model.

I hope to one day come across an article on here critiquing the dirty play and cherry picking by Ovechkin or maybe all of the dives and blindsides by Mike Richards, but I am not going to hold my breath.

From "Joe Marks, Life Long Pittsburgher and Penguin Fan":

I would like to start by stating that I am unabashed Penguin fan and Sidney Crosby supporter. I have been thoroughly impressed with his actions and attitudes on and off the ice from the day he was drafted. He's never been involved in any off-ice incident or been anything other than professional and very mature in his conduct, especially for his young age and with all the attention that has been thrust upon him. He does nothing but work hard every night and his competitive nature rivals anyone I have ever seen in any sport, and people absolutely hate him for it. If I personally have any complaint about him, it is that he is too boring and blasé in his interviews. He very rarely says anything even remotely inflammatory or controversial. I was glad when he made the comments about Ovechkin's antics being distasteful earlier this season because I want the captain of my team to stir the pot a little when it is justified.

What continues to drive me nuts with the Crosby-bashing is that it always comes back to the same tired arguments that were made by the Filthy Flyer fans and the Kook in the Crazy Suit in Toronto his rookie year. The best case ever put forward for his 'whining' and 'diving' was when he had unpremeditated dental work performed upon him by Darien Hatcher and no penalty was called. He was labeled as 'soft' and 'immature' after that contest in which he returned to score the game winning goal in overtime. Yet somehow this pure dribble from boorish Flyers fans seeped through the rest of the hockey world creating this unwarranted and unreasonable monstrous persona of an entitled spoiled brat, when in reality I doubt there is anyone in the league who works harder to be the best in the game than #87.

We know just how good of a player he is in Pittsburgh, and that is good enough for me. Hopefully one day the rest of the hockey world will realize as well; outside of the neanderthals in Philly and that tired old windbag in Toronto. I reserve no hope for them coming to any other conclusion than Mike Richards is the best captain in the league.

In conclusion: I agree that the NHL has been over reliant on Crosby to market the game in the post-lockout era; however, I do not feel that it is fair to chastise him for this reason. Nothing about his personality would indicate to me that he is an egotistical spotlight hog, and he has stated many times since he came here that he only wants to be accepted as one of the guys on the team. I have never heard any past or current teammate or coach say anything unsavory about him, on or off the record. I can understand if somebody believes that he may not be the best player in the world right now. I personally feel that he is. If he can stay healthy it is likely that he will be regarded as one of the best to ever play the game. Perhaps that will be appreciated more universally at some point.

Finally, from Rich Roberts of that hockey hotbed of Omaha, Nebraska (!):

I've really grown tired of the attitude many fans have toward Sidney Crosby and the attention it's created.  Everyone who complains that he's a whiner, dives, or simply doesn't deserve the title as the NHL's best player would love to have him centering a line for their favorite team. Suddenly he'd be o.k. in their eyes.

As it is, he plays for the Penguins who in the last 20 years or so have enjoyed the talents of players like Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.  One is already a Hall of Famer and the others probably will be someday as well. So there must be some envy in the minds of fans when it comes to the Penguins too. You think fans in Toronto, where they haven't won a Cup since 1967, appreciated Lemieux winning two Cups with the Pens?  Then Crosby goes there too; and in short time takes Pittsburgh within two wins of the Cup. That's two Canadian kids that fans in that city and the nation of Canada, read about for years during their amateur careers, playing for a team in the lower 48. You think that's a slap in the face?

He's been labeled the best player in the league, but who's doing the labeling, fans, the media, the league itself?  Is Sid out there telling anyone who will listen that he's the best? Read his comments sometimes about Evgeni Malkin. Crosby is more than willing to throw around praise for him. He's even been complimentary toward Alex Ovechkin and other players in the league. I never read him publicly question the ability of another player as Alexander Semin did earlier this year about Sid.

This is all about jealousy, period. Pundits examine everything he does with critical eyes, and thoughts of diminishing his skills, his attitudes and his personality. Can you imagine having the eyes of a nation on you beginning at age 14?  Or how about an entire league depending upon his imagine at age 18?  Did he ask Gary Bettman and his staff to market the league around him? Was it a demand he put in his contract before he signed to play with Pittsburgh?  Look they go with the territory and Sid understands that, but we can only imagine the pressure and scrutiny he's under on a daily basis, on and off the ice.

Is he the best player in the league? No, not at this time. Ovechkin and Malkin are great, and deserve MVP attention over Crosby. He needs to score more goals, but his pass first attitude may need to be reigned in somewhat to accomplish that. Regardless, he's in the top 10, probably the top 5 and a player every opponent must be concerned about when playing Pittsburgh.

No matter what's written or said, people will come to their own conclusions and opinions. Those who support him will see the talent he brings to the ice every game; the passion and desire that accompany him; the drive to win and make those around him better; and the willingness to deal with ancillary matters such as the media and fan requests. Those who dislike Crosby won't be swayed by words or deeds. They'll continue with their immature rants and displays of sophomoric behavior-like the hockey card in the urinal and the pacifiers at the most recent Penguins-Capitals game-and wish he wore the sweater of their favorite team.

• • •

Thanks to everyone who made his or her voice heard about this video and our Crosby coverage, no matter how constructive or disparaging that voice might have been. If you haven't seen it, here's "The Hate and Love of Sidney Crosby." Thanks again for reading and participating.


The Hate and Love of Sidney Crosby @ Yahoo! Video

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