For the last two months, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has been benched with a concussion, a somewhat sick source of happiness for hockey fans who love nothing more than seeing other players make NHL news rather than the NHL's Poster Boy.
Throughout his career in the NHL, Crosby has been the recipient of every type of criticism. Each passing season sees the hatred toward him grow more and more.
Most Pens fans, as well as Crosby, shrug it off. After all, something must be wrong if one of the best players in the game isn't hated for some reason.
But what if Crosby were to take the criticisms to heart and decided to change his ways to appease his haters?
Here's what he would have to do:
DISCLAIMER—This was written all in good fun. Clearly I'm a Pens fan so my appreciation and respect for Sidney Crosby has no end, but I thought now would be a good time to poke fun at Crosby and what people think of him.
Laura Falcon is a Featured Columnist for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Follow her on Twitter or email her at email@example.com with any comments or questions.
Following Pens unprecedented win in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, Crosby, caught up in the high of his first Cup win and the swarming media, was late getting to the handshake line and subsequently missed shaking the hands of a few Red Wings players, including captain Nick Lidstrom.
As per usual, the hockey world went from focusing on the Pens as Stanley Cup Champions to dissecting Crosby's actions or lack thereof and reporting people's reactions of them.
And so "Crosby Handshakegate" began.
Henrik Zetterberg thought Crosby was disrespectful.
Kris Draper thought it was "ridiculous."
Larry Brown agreed with Draper's comments.
Suddenly Crosby wasn't the youngest captain to ever hoist the Stanley Cup, but he was the bad guy. The sore winner.
As for Lidstrom, he couldn't care less, especially since he spent less than 10 seconds addressing it.
The non-handshake comes up in blogs every time the Pens and Wings match up, so it would probably do Crosby some good to just make a show of shaking Lidstrom's hand, maybe throw out an apology somewhere in the middle of formal press conference put together for that very reason.
Because in the end, Crosby shaking hands with Lidstrom was what everyone on Draper's side really wanted, right?
Every time Crosby hits the ice, it's a dive.
No ifs, ands, or buts.
The reason is simple: his lower body is far too strong for him to fall over that easily with a push from a 6'2" 215-pound defenseman. He's supposed to have superhuman lower body strength, after all.
It, of course, doesn't matter what happens with the opposing team. Crosby is the only player in the NHL that can be accused of diving.
Especially with his zero diving penalties taken this season.
It's simple, really, Crosby just can't let anyone send him to the ice. Not even Viktor Hedman or Dave Steckel.
Since his entrance into the NHL, Crosby has been dubbed a whiner.
All he does is whine and complain to the refs. He is incapable of conversing with the refs without complaining about a bad call or a slash in the hands he took earlier in the game.
This is especially true when he was named the biggest whiner by 52-percent of the League in 2009. Just don't tell anyone that only 193 NHL players took part in the poll.
Many Crosby apologists have stated it is the job of the captain to relay information to the referees at any moment during a hockey game.
Not Crosby though.
If he goes to the refs, he's clearly there to complain, so maybe he should just stop talking to the refs in the first place. There are even some conspiracy theorists who say Crosby is trying to bribe the refs into doing things Bettma-, I mean, Crosby's way.
Something we all saw when both Hedman and Steckel saw severe punishment when they laid hands on Crosby.
With the whining and diving accusations, Crosby doesn't seem to be much of a tough customer.
It would probably do him some good to drop the gloves with someone on the third or fourth line of the opposition and deliver a one-punch knock out.
He isn't notorious for fighting, despite his six fighting majors—more than any other NHL superstar. He's also a dirty fighter after punching Boris Valabik from behind and in an off-limits area and jumping Brett McLean at the face-off circle.
Naturally, Crosby should show just how hardcore he is and Brent Johnson a player right into unconsciousness.
Not only will he regain some respect from those who think he's soft, but he won't be on the ice for five minutes which is always a good thing for other teams.
And there wouldn't be players who would be out for his already beat up head the next time both teams meet.
Come playoff time, the questions are never "How many points will Crosby accumulate in the first round?" or "How many times will Crosby score the first goal of the game?" but "How well will Crosby's playoff beard turn out this year?"
Crosby's inability to grow a playoff beard has captured the attention of may photoshop artists and jokers. Even Crosby has starting going along with it.
But in doing this, Crosby is just going along with everyone's claims that his playoff stache makes him look like a prepubescent pedophile.
Needless to say, Crosby loves showing off the stache.
Crosby recently exposed the NHL world to the stache prematurely in the season when he went on a 25-game scoring streak that saw him not shave his upper lip. In the end, we know it was to practice for the playoffs.
But until he can grow a real playoff beard or stache, there will be some people who just won't take him seriously.
So with the NHL world anxiously awaiting the day when Crosby can grow a playoff beard like a man, he can keep practicing with lengthy scoring streaks and deep runs in the playoffs.
Crosby's press conference and interviews are so ho hum.
No one cares what he has to say because he only says what's politically correct.
Let's face it, Sidney Crosby is boring and as plain as toast when he presents himself to the media.
What he needs is a new personality. Maybe something more vivacious and spirited, like his counterpart Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.
Maybe he can do an interview and go on a tirade about how he isn't "bi-polar but bi-winning."
Maybe he can ask Sean Avery for some clothing advice so it doesn't look like he merely raided his grandfather's closet before stepping out into the public eye. While he's at it, he can get some dating tips from Avery.
Yes, what Crosby needs is a new personality that will get him even more attention, even though that's exactly what people think he has too much of.
But Crosby doesn't seem to care, he somehow manages to make the news without dating celebrities or appearing drunk or high in interviews.
Or excessive goal celebrations.
Crosby is no Jeff Skinner in terms of the baby face, but his face is a little too...pretty for most people's taste.
"Most people" is excluding the female population, of course, who want nothing more than to smother his face with love and affection.
Crosby probably wouldn't get so much crap if he didn't have that pretty boy face that so many girls love to drool over and many guys love to hate.
Those guys would want nothing more than to see his face become rearranged in some way, be it a puck or an enforcer's fist. Maybe he can lose a few teeth and get a few scars on his face.
Anything to make him look more manly.
And yes, that includes being able to grow the playoff beard.
But while that's happening, I'm sure Crosby has enjoyed the many wedding dress-clad proposers in the stands and the thousands of girls who throw themselves at him just because of his paycheck and who he is.
In Philadelphia, Washington, New York, Montreal and countless other NHL cities, the boos rain hard on Crosby whenever he has the puck.
They boo with all their might, hoping to get the star player off his game.
The only problem?
It hasn't worked.
But shhh, don't tell anyone, especially the people of Washington and Philly who are still convinced that booing Crosby is the best way to get him off his game.
So they try and try but to no real avail. The boos come down louder and the organ prompts a "Crosby sucks!" chant. But time and time again,Crosby finds a way to silence them with a timely goal or an unbelievable play.
Crosby will definitely convert some haters if he can actually show that he cracks under the pressure of an obnoxious arena. Surely he wouldn't frustrate them as much if he did.
In the meantime, though, we Pens fans hope you keep it up.
Ever heard of players Dimitri Afanasenkov, Bob Wren or Joel Kwiatkowski?
Or what about Kristian Kudroc or Luke Sellars?
It's because they never did anything significant in the NHL.
No one ever gets hype in the sporting world because they fail to impress from start to finish in their career.
Crosby haters would probably want nothing more than to see Crosby become a nobody in the NHL community. They want his talents to yield nothing for himself and for the Pens so that maybe, maybe some other players can become top dogs in the NHL.
They just want to escape his name and all that he has accomplished.
If that were to happen, just be prepared for the explosion of "What went wrong?" or "What must Crosby do to regain his star touch?" articles throughout the remainder of his career and long after he retires.
And then people would discuss his talents in a "what if?" manner, in a similar but more substantial Eric Lindros way.
And then hockey analysts would go into investigative reporting to uncover Crosby's dark hockey secrets or any reason why he is unable to perform at a high caliber.
Well, you get the idea.