January 01, 2011
The Washington Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2010 NHL Winter Classic, 3-1, as Eric Fehr's(notes) two goals were the difference in rainy Heinz Field. The longer the game went, the more the bitterness in this rivalry came to the forefront.
It was never more apparent than at the end of the Classic, with the Capitals 0.6 seconds away from victory; and then after the game, when the Penguins and Capitals broke a two-year tradition of postgame handshakes by leaving the ice after a stick raise to the fans:
The non-handshake was noticed by mainstream writers like J.A. Adande of ESPN and the Penguins are taking heat for the non-handshake from some fans tonight, and let's face it: Sidney Crosby(notes) doesn't exactly have the best reputation when it comes to postgame greetings, as overblown as his "snub" of the Detroit Red Wings in 2009 was.
Any criticism of the Penguins here is equally overblown. The postgame handshake at the Winter Classic is a nice gesture that signals to the crowd that we've all made it through these elements together. But it's a regular season game on a grand stage. It's two points in the standings.
The postgame handshake is a nice (though increasingly overhyped) tradition in the playoffs, as warriors acknowledge the end of battle. Here it's just window dressing.
Besides, as Green said and as Max Talbot(notes) has said and as any hockey fan that's ever seen the Penguins and Capitals tangle knows: They hate each other. They last thing I wanted to see after the contentious finish to the game was some sort of forced showing of affection that's as sappy as the conditions were soggy. Save that saccharine playacting for the games that matter, not the made-for-TV ones.
The hate's the reason we're tuning in anyway for these teams; not the handshakes.