NBC wrongfully blasts Penguins for Sidney Crosby missing Hockeyville USA

NBC wrongfully blasts Penguins for Sidney Crosby missing Hockeyville USA

There were many things fans could gawk at during NHL’s “Kraft Hockeyville USA” event in Johnstown, Pa., on Tuesday night. The Hanson Brothers. Evgeni Malkin dressed as a Hanson Brother. People in the crowd wearing Hanson Brothers jerseys. And also Bob Costas.

Not in attendance: Sidney Crosby, who didn’t suit up for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Neither did Phil Kessel or Marc-Andre Fleury, but the Penguins’ decision not to have Crosby appear in the game was the focus of an NBC Sports Network critique from Mike Milbury and the aforementioned Mr. Costas.

“The people here, and they could have sold this place out 10 times over, they would have loved to have seen Sidney Crosby skate a couple of shifts,” said Costas. “It’s like when a Major League Baseball team plays its Triple-A farm club, everyone gets one at-bat and everyone gets to see them.”

Well, no, it’s not, because this wasn’t a game against the Penguins’ farm team, where the organization profits in totality. Nor was it the last preseason game before the regular season, when these major/minor exhibitions are typically held. Nor is this baseball, although that will never stop Costas from bringing it back there.

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Here, let me make another cross-genre comparison …

World Wrestling Entertainment does well over 300 house shows around the world each year. Some of these shows are television tapings, some are pay-per-view events, some are in arenas and some are in smaller facilities. It’s generally accepted that in those smaller venues, you’re not going to necessarily see John Cena or the heavyweight champion, or John Cena wrestling as the heavyweight champion. (Spoiler: He wins.) You’re going to see the fifth or sixth guy in the pecking order, and you’re going to be thrilled, because they came to your tiny little backwater town!

So when the Penguins come to Johnstown, Pa., and play in a miniscule rink that’s most famous being a movie set, does the champ have to wrestle? Or give a speech to the crowd? Or do a hit with NBCSN?

Of course not. And I say this as someone who ripped the stuffings out of Crosby for his career-avoidance of the NHL All-Star Game – an actual showcase for the NHL that occurs during the regular season and draws tens of thousands more fans (and hundreds of thousands more viewers) from around the globe than “Kraft Hockeyville USA” will ever draw.

I care if Crosby isn’t there to promote the League. I absolutely don’t care if he doesn’t attend an exhibition game in a beer league rink just because the NHL dresses it up as a faux happening, NBCSN is filling hours with it and it helps some company sell even more neon orange mac and cheese.

And as for Costas: These fans got to see Evgeni Malkin.

Hey, it’s not Hulk Hogan defending the world title, but at least it’s Macho Man defending the Intercontinental belt. Ohhhhh yeaaaah…

s/t to The Pensblog, for whom these wrestling reference may or may not have been tailored.