Sidney Crosby Is Talking: Maybe the NHL Should Listen

Mike ShannonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 01:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on while playing against the Washington Capitals during the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Heinz Field on January 1, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

By now, you've no doubt read about Sidney Crosby and his opinions on blows to the head in the NHL.  After being struck in the head by both David Steckel and Victor Hedman, Sid had this to say: 

“When I look at those two hits...I mean, we talk about blindside, and that's a big word—unsuspecting player, there's no puck there, and direct hit to the head on both of them. If you want to go through the criteria, I think they fit all those.”

Some hockey fans (i.e. Flyers fans) have once again taken to the Internet to proclaim this just another case of Sidney Crosby "whining" and trying to get the league to protect him.  These fans are completely and totally wrong. 

When the best player in the world opens his mouth to say something, the league should open their ears and listen.  Sidney Crosby is without a doubt the face of the NHL and, like him or not, is one of the main reasons for the resurgence of the league in recent years. 

Blows to the head are something that is being taken very seriously in all sports nowadays, and why should hockey be any different?  Don't forget that, under international hockey rules, a hit to the head is an automatic penalty no matter the intent or situation. 

People like to point to Wayne Gretzky as this bastion of hockey integrity who played the game hard and never once complained to the referees about rough treatment. Well, there's one very big difference between Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky:  "The Great One" never went to the areas on the ice that Crosby does.  Crosby goes to the corners, the front of the net and the slot, all places where he is hacked, slashed and tackled into oblivion.

Gretzky was also labeled a "whiner" and a "diver" earlier in his career, as detailed in a great article by EJ Hradek, and overcame those later in his career.  What did both have in common?  They were both responsible for putting the entire NHL on their backs. 

To piggy back on top of that, are you detractors saying that Sid never gets unfairly hacked and slashed behind the play?  They are quick to point out the "whining" but never talk about the 30 seconds preceding it when someone like Chris Pronger is smacking Sid in the wrist.  Obviously, this happens to every play now and then, but the cameras are always going to be on Crosby because he's the superstar.

The other argument I'm hearing a lot about is people complaining that no one said anything when Matt Cooke almost ended Marc Savard's career.  The people are wrong, here's what Sid had to say about it: 

"At some point there’s got to be a clear indication from the league because we’ve seen this so many times now.

"You don’t like to see anyone, their own teammate or an opposing player, lay on the ice like that. That was scary."

So there's Crosby calling out his own teammate for a hit on an opponent. I don't understand how that can be construed as whining.  I find it very hard to imagine someone arguing against making head shots illegal in the game of hockey. What is there to gain from them? 

The hatred for Sidney Crosby comes from the fact that other teams don't have him on their roster.  Did you watch the Olympic games?  Did you see how wild the Canadian crowd was when Sid banged in the game-winner?  Where was the booing?  Where was the constant complaining about referees favoring him?

The bottom line is Sidney Crosby is the greatest player in hockey right now and, unfortunately, with that comes whining and complaining from other fanbases.  Look how many people hate Tom Brady (himself an alleged "whiner") or Peyton Manning or the entire New York Yankees roster.  When you win championships and individual awards, people are going to try to justify why you aren't as good as everyone thinks.  They want to cut you off at the legs to make themselves feel taller.

So what should Sidney Crosby change?  Absolutely nothing.  Crosby should speak his mind whenever he feels like it, and those suits at the NHL offices should listen.  The Internet chatter from other fanbases should have no effect on that whatsoever.  Right now, Crosby is out with a concussion, and yet still has an nine-point lead on Steven Stamkos and is leading in goals. 

Other fanbases might have a lot of fun coming up with names like "Crysby" or "Cindy", but the bottom line is that's where their arguments stop.  They can't argue against his statistics, they can't argue against his Stanley Cup and they also can't bring themselves to admit he's the best damn player in the game today. 

So maybe they should stop their whining and enjoy the ride.