Everyone is having a field day with this, so I figured it's only right to say my part as well. As always, I'd love to hear what you guys have to say about it.
In this video you'll notice an altercation between Florida's Brett McLean and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. Note: Florida's Nick Boynton is not involved in the debacle. Why is this important you ask? Because apparently people feel it's valid to quote someone who wasn't involved with the incident as the best source regarding the fight:
"That was just embarrassing. I can understand a little bit what he was trying to do, but that’s a not a very professional move. You ask a guy to fight. You don’t jump a guy when his head is down taking a faceoff. That’s pretty immature and childish. He’s just, whatever. He’s not happy with the way things are going and he was trying to get his team going. But there’s no need for that.’’
Florida Panthers defenseman
Last I checked he wasn't within ear shot of the faceoff circle. If he was, maybe he would've heard Sid challenge McLean:
"I asked him to go, and he said yes. And usually, yes means yes. I mean, I wouldn't have wasted 20 minutes in the box for that. I guess he didn't take me serious. I don't know, it wasn't worth 20 minutes, though, that's for sure."
From post-game interview and recap
Or perhaps that didn't happen. Maybe Sid did actually jump McLean. Maybe Sid, for the first time in his career, goon'd out and let his frustrations dictate his actions. No one's perfect.
All those people who prior to this incident that were frustrated with Crosby's role as the face of the NHL will embrace it, for now at least, in efforts to use it against him. That's why you'll read comments on how much he's "embarassing" himself on James Mirtle's From the Rink or how "poor" McLean was a victim on LitterBox Cats.
"Everybody can kind of understand what he's doing for their team there. He's their leader."
Florida Panthers 'victim'
Doesn't sound like the tone of a victim to me. But if you ask anyone else his comments are "classy" and "admirable" for a guy who just got dumped. If you watch the video he even skates away with a smile on his face, probably thinking, "I didn't think he would." Of course the same people quoting Boynton would say he's really saying something else.
McLean later added, from the Miami Herald blog On Frozen Pond:
''He said something before the drop but I really didn't pick up on it. So, I kind of wish I had now. Like I said, everyone can understand what he was trying to do for his team. He's their leader, their captain.''
Florida Coach Pete DeBoer didn't negate Crosby's action either. Once again a quote Crosby bashers would say is "classy" of DeBoer:
''I've coached Sidney and know what kind of competitor he is. If I'm coaching Pittsburgh, I like to see that kind of fire out of one of your best players when things aren't going that well. It is what it is. I was glad to see him off the ice for 19 minutes. That made our lives a little easier.''
It's true. Keeping Sid off the ice helped the Panthers and definitely hurt the Penguins. But the score was already 4-1 at that point. As much as we'd like to think the Pens would make a run for a comeback chances were slim to none at that point.
Trust me, I'm not ruling out the possibility that Crosby did something dirty on the ice and will more than likely get away with it. I'm a hockey fan, first and foremost, when it comes to looking at issues like this. I don't go into auto-defense mode if it's a Penguins player, despite running a Penguin-centric site. If McLean did accept the challenge than Sid should've given him a chance to drop the mitts and square off. But maybe McLean, as Sid said, didn't take him seriously. Now Crosby is committed to a fight with a guy who thought he was joking. Backing off at this point would look like backing down.
After all, you don't hear people talking about how McLean turtled against Crosby. You won't read that anywhere. Outside of this incident, there are still a collective group of people scratching their head saying, "Who is Brett McLean?"
Here are just a few things I'd like to put on the record, just so you know it's all out there.
During the game thread I openly admitted it looked like Sid jumped McLean. But I wasn't on the ice to hear those comments. So at the least I'll agree Sid got him on his back foot.
In the game recap I said:
I can't say I disagree with it. The crowd went crazy, the players were standing up and cheering and frankly it provided some entertainment. I consider it a sacrifice, an attempt to turn the tides of the game even if it resulted in a game misconduct. Perhaps that's the price to pay as a captain. With the way Sid has been playing these past few games you'd almost think he was in the box anyways.
I still stand by that. Similar to McLean I understand where Crosby is coming from. I don't disagree with it. The method, perhaps, but not the motive.
Black and gold glasses aside I can honestly say this is an incident blown out of proportion. Look at how everyone is quoting Boynton as the reliable source on the altercation. He wasn't there, he doesn't know. You know who does? Sid and McLean. Sid said he challenged him and he didn't take him seriously. McLean said he understood what Sid was doing.
Maybe this fight will have bigger implications than expected. Sid took this week's attention off the team, off the power play and off the four-straight losses. Maybe now the rest of the guys can pull it together with no distractions. Sounds like a captain doing his job - intended or not.
So where is the controversy coming from? People who want it to be there.