Sidney Crosby is the most reviled figure in pro hockey. No player in the league elicits such open hatred from opposing crowds as does #87. Underneath it all, I think this growing brotherhood of irrational 'player haters' relies on a simple foundation, dogma (and I'm not talking about the Kevin Smith movie).
According to these people Crosby is never legitimately tripped, slashed, elbowed, or punched. He dives and whines every (or most of the) time. It's a funny paradox of reasoning as I sit here and think about it. I've heard people accuse the often incompetent NHL referees of giving Crosby calls, yet they also accuse him of whining to the officials at every moment. Which is it? Why plead with the officials for a call if they're inclined to give it to him (undeservedly) in the first place? Wouldn't the refs be looking for excuses to call penalties?
And why does one of the top offensive threats in the NHL not draw legitimate penalties but instead whine and dive most of the time? I find that inferred bit of reasoning odd. Crosby can consistantly put up 100 points a season, yet never puts the opposing players in a position where they're prone to commit an infraction to stop him? Does that make any sense at all?
I also find these assaults on his character baseless and inconsistant. You never hear about Crosby punching cab drivers, driving drunk, or bragging in ESPN E60 segments about driving far over the speed limit in his gluttonously expensive rare sports car. Crosby is always humble regarding his own accomplishments and quick to praise those of his teammates. He doesn't flaunt his wealth. He never says anything controversial. Doesn't complain about what people did on the ice to the media. And he's reviled for all of it.
The real elephant in the room is handshake gate. An event worse than a Bertuzzi blindside attack or a McSorely slash to the head. You see, Crosby didn't shake hands with all the Red Wings players at the end of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals Game 7, and the entire hockey universe imploded in anguish from the dire act. It was the single most disgusting event in pro sports history. And to make matters worse, when Mike Babcock praised his play at the end of the handshake line, he had the audacity to say 'thanks'. He didn't get down on his knees and kiss the opposing coach's ring or anything!
Thick sarcasm aside, this whole handshake thing is a new low for the 'let's complain about Crosby' crowd. I wish I'd recorded the last part of the previous two deciding Stanley Cup Finals games, because there's something I'm dying to know. I'd love to see a side by side comparison between the end of Game 6 of the 2008 finals and Game 7 of the 2009 finals.
How long did each team celebrate after the clock hit 0:00 before they went to shake hands? How quickly after the clock hit 0:00 did the losers form their handshake line? Were they comparable amounts of time? Did the Penguins celebrate significantly longer than the Red Wings did, or were the Red Wings in a rush to get off he ice? I don't know, as I'm only able to find edited feeds, but I'd love to find out, because I have my suspicions as to what a direct comparison like that would prove.
The bottom line is Crosby will never cease to be a whiner, diver, cry baby, poor captain, poor role model, blah, blah, blah. He can't. Because evidence and logic don't play a part in those stigmas. This whole hatred of Crosby is like a real life version of 'The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street', only with Sid acting as a coherent focal point.
Crosby's a fantastic hockey player AND person. It's a shame so many people are unwilling to let themselves see it.