OK, I need to get something out of the way. I’m a Sidney Crosby hater. Well not really, but he is the Captain of the Philadelphia Flyers inter-state rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. I respect everything that he has done and am impressed by it, but I can’t help it, every time I look at Sidney Crosby I see this:
Even though I should really be seeing this:
The thing is, I just can’t shake it. I spend 95% of my hockey watching wishing that he will lose. It’s been that way since he has entered the league. From the minute that Derian Hatcher decided to play Dentist, there has been this general distaste for Crosby from Flyers fans. Whether it be the Wells Fargo Center crowds of 19,500 chanting in unison, “Crosby Sucks”. Or even Crosby trolling Flyers fans:
As fans, the Philadelphia faithful have been bred to not cheer for Crosby. Which hasn’t always been easy. The guy most likely the closest the current generation will ever come to a Wayne Gretzky type of player (Here’s hoping Connor McDavid lives up to the hype). His career numbers are very intimidating. 793 points in 563 games. He is likely to hit 800 points well before he plays his 600th game. We are clearly watching a Hall of Fame Career. Which brings me to why I decided to write this post. On Saturday night, I went to the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres game. It was going to be the first time I had ever been to see Crosby play live. It went a little something like this:
The guy just put on a clinic. I’ve never really seen something that impressive in person. He just took over the game for two periods. I was beginning to think that we might be seeing a record breaking night, but Crosby only played two shifts during the final period. Nonetheless, his dominance was a thing to see. Really, seeing him live provided me with some perspective and insight I was sorely lacking before. As well, I have been skeptical because when I had gone to see Ovechkin play a couple of years ago, I felt that Ovechkin spent much of the game loafing around the blue lines. I was worried that the magic of Crosby was seriously limited to the TV experience. Luckily, I was wrong. I was reminded of the time I had seen Peyton Manning play a late season game for the Colts against the Buffalo Bills. Manning entered the game only for a quarter, but he took over the game like nothing I’ve ever seen. It was honestly like Manning was defeating an entire team on his own. That’s what it seemed like on Saturday night with Crosby. Now I’m sure if you put Crosby and the Penguins against a more formidable opponent, the result would be a little different, but it still resulted in a very entertaining game.
So where does this leave me? I have a deep seeded appreciation for Crosby. I think it would be crazy to say that he wasn’t a good player, or more specifically, the best player in the game. I don’t think I can ever really be a fan of his. It really is one of the more intense rivalries in the NHL right now, and I buy into it wholesale. Plus I don’t really think there is any love lost.
Cover Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo