An open letter to Pittsburgh Penguins fans, hockey fans, and the reverent admirers of No. 87:
I don't know if you're aware of this, but ... I don't have to like Sidney Crosby.
Oh, and I know how you desire for me to see it your way -- to listen to the spin doctors pontificate on the various "legitimate" reasons why he should be defended.
Back off, Crosmaniacs. I'm not drinking your Kool-Aid.
You should know I never meant for it to be this way. I tried to like Sidney Crosby. Really, I did. I mean, no one wants to be the odd ... uh ... woman out, especially when you're talking about the new face of the NHL.
But I can't take it anymore. The constant whining and repeated excuses -- not the ones from Crosby -- I've grown to live with them. No, I'm talking about the bleating being heard from the Crosby faithful.
And that would seem to include some significant portions of the media.
Example: In an early December matchup between the Wild and Penguins, FSN analyst Bob Errey claimed that after Sidney Crosby had received a penalty for delay of game, referee Dan O'Rourke was goading The Kid into an unsportsmanlike conduct, simply by staring at him. In Errey's opinion, this was an attempt to make Sid chirp.
Example: In mid-January, a well-known Toronto columnist wrote, "Sid "The Kid" Crosby is quickly browning off old-style NHL traditionalists with his consistent whining and good for him for not getting in line, which is the hockey way."
Example: Over the past two months, there have been numerous discussions on all three Canadian sports networks regarding the two Calder trophy frontrunners -- Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. There have been multiple suggestions that the race is an unfair one, given that Ovechkin is older, and therefore more experienced than Crosby.
What is this? Sarcasm?
I don't like the kid, okay? You might, but I don't. I don't like his attitude. I don't like the preferential treatment he receives. I don't respect an 18-year-old on any team being made an assistant captain. And I can't bear to watch another interview involving his teammates:
"Hey, John LeClair -- how do you feel about Sid getting the 'A'?"
"I'm fine with it."
Yeah, sure you are.
Crosmaniacs can spin anything, including Don Cherry's recent dressing down of Ilya Kovalchuk, after the Atlanta star taunted Sidney during a game in January.
Internet message boards hailed it as a significant victory, as Cherry has proven to be critical of No. 87 in the past.
Significant, except it never dawned on them that Grapes would always defend a Canadian player over a European one, regardless of whether he liked him or not.
But the most frustrating fact for those of us that aren't enamoured with The Kid occurs when we're attacked for not appreciating his skill. Envision the next four sentences in 72-point font:
A fan can dislike Sidney's behaviour but recognize his talent. There is no correlation between the two. No one would ever claim that Crosby lacks skill. He is an awesome, phenomenal player.
But that still doesn't mean I have to like or accept any ridiculous attempts to defend him.
The time will come when Crosby won't be able to rely on his delicate age as a cure-all excuse for his transgressions. One hopes that day, and his eventual emotional maturity, arrives swiftly. Surely if we're subjected to another 20 years of this, the Crosmaniacs will spin themselves into the ground.
STOP SCOLDING RAY: Here's a new theory on Ray Emery: If he was allowed to be himself without constant grief -- that would include getting tattoos, dying his hair and choosing designs for his mask -- wouldn't it stand to reason his confidence would return in short order? The first year in any career is a hypersensitive time. It will do more harm than good if Ray is scolded after every attempt to express his character.
FACE TIME: Have you noticed referee Bill McCreary's moustache as of late? It's taking over his face. This would finally explain his inability to miss those obvious penalties on occasion -- you can't make a call if you've got hair in your eyes.
TOWEL BOY: From my vantage point at the Senators' skills competition last weekend, I noticed that Dominik Hasek eventually left the bench and didn't return. I assumed he retired to the dressing room, to change into his second towel of the day.