Lay Off Crosby Already

Let me get this straight: we just witnessed arguably one of the greatest Stanley Cup finals in modern history, with two of the league’s best players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and the Pittsburgh Penguins taking on the league’s best team and defending champion in the Detroit Red Wings, battling to the last seconds of the seventh and deciding game to take home the world’s most storied trophy, and after the game we hear complaining because the winning captain didn’t move quickly enough to shake the other captain’s hand?!

REALLY?!

Detroit’s Kris Draper told the Associated Press that after time expired and the Pens initial celebration ended that Red Wings’ captain Nicklaus Lidstrom “was waiting and waiting, and Crosby didn’t come over to shake his hand” in the traditional handshake line.

He then added, “that’s ridiculous, especially as their captain, and make sure you write that I said that.”

Once again, let me try and understand this: the young man who was anointed “The Next One”, succeeding Wayne Gretzky as the face of the NHL (without his permission, I might add),  just helped his team win a championship series against a team that almost nobody in the national media thought they could beat after falling behind 2-0, after missing the last thirty minutes of the game with a knee injury, and nobody expected an outpouring of emotion?

I’d like to think for someone like Draper who has won four championships, he would at least emphasize or understand the importance of winning the first one. I’m sure he wasn’t 100% aware of what to do when he won his first, much less 100% aware of the captain’s duties, considering that he wasn’t a captain, much less the youngest ever to hoist the Cup in league history.

The ironic part of all of this is, after Draper, Lidstrom, and about half the Red Wings left the ice quickly, Crosby made it to the handshake line to greet veteran Detroit’s veteran goaltender Chris Osgood and head coach Mike Babcock, who complemented Crosby on his “great leadership.”

So he shook the coach’s hand, but not the captain’s hand, and that makes him unsportsmanlike?!

It’s not like we’re talking about LeBron James here, who walked off the floor after he and the Cleveland Cavaliers lost the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals to the Orlando Magic and didn’t shake hands with anybody, much less half the opposing team and head coach, and on top of that, made some lame excuse as to why he didn’t do it (and yes, Cavs fans, simply “being a competitor” is a very lame excuse). Now that is ridiculous.

It’s all very simple, Kris. Your team was supposed to win, and they didn’t. You lost. Tip your cap and move on. It would be different if the Penguins were the team that had won four champions in the last ten years and then were accused of something like this, but they weren’t. You are the one with four titles and fell short of your fifth.

And let’s put something else on the record. When Detroit won the Cup last season on Pittsburgh’s home ice, while the Red Wings celebrated and paraded around with the Cup, most of the Penguins STAYED ON THE ICE to watch. They waited behind to shake hands and respect the tradition. So the fact that you’re complaining about something that trivial, simply because you didn’t feel like sticking around to watch the same exact scene that the men you lost to witnessed last year doesn’t speak to Crosby being unsportsmanlike as much as it does to you being a sore loser.

So when it all comes down to it, who are you really mad at: Sidney Crosby, for enjoying the opportunity to do what so many professional athletes have failed to do, or yourself and your teammates for losing four out of five games after being up 2-0? Throw your blame where it’s deserved, and let the Penguins enjoy their championship. Nobody got in your way and pointed fingers at you over trivial misunderstandings when you won any of your four.

Get over it.

And someone do me a favor. If you know Kris Draper, give him this URL and make sure you tell him that I wrote this.

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