If you like the internet and bashing Sidney Crosby, what a week it's been for you!
Crosby put himself in the spotlight when he slashed the hand of Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot and the result was a bloody mess that left Methot's fingertip a nub. You've likely seen the image and it's gross so I'm not going to plaster it here. Do a google search if you want, at your own peril.
Anyways, here's the play in question (be ready to stop it at 25 seconds if you don't want to see the blood and gore)
First of all, it could/should be a slashing penalty. By letter of the law in the NHL rulebook, this is actually a major penalty, being as the slash caused an injury. If any or all of that was called, there's no argument to make for Crosby at all. He should have been penalized for this, just to get that out of the way.
That statement, of course, isn't enough for the fans who hate Crosby, think he's a petulant jerk, a cheapshot artist, blah blah you know the drill, you can probably search that too on your social media or hear crazy old Senators owner talk about it.
But you know who wasn't all that concerned about this? The actual Ottawa Senators. Here's their captain Erik Karlsson after the game:
"It’s kind of a misplay. [Crosby] puts his stick in [Methot's] hand as he’s trying to shoot the puck in and, unfortunately, it hits his finger. It turns out, worse-case scenario. Plays like that happen all the time. But no, I don’t think it was intentional or dirty."
And here's goalie Mike Condon, who surely would be the first person to stick-up for one of his bedrock defensive defensemen.
"There are so many things that happen in the game. There are slashes on both sides. But apparently, Meth’s finger is pretty messed up, as we all saw on the Jumbotron. That’s hockey. That’s part of the game."
So the Senators know this is part of the game. A better question is probably - why is so much slashing on the hands embedded in NHL culture? And as pointed out in the comments, a player is better off slashing someone's glove than the stick, because if the stick breaks it is obvious, looks bad and often times a penalty, even if the actual slash wasn't so bad. A slash to the hands is enforced as a penalty far less frequently, unless it's denying a clear scoring chance.
Anyways, a common refrain about whiny fans (who ironically like to call Crosby the whiner) is that if the shoe was on the other foot, Sid would be petulant and the other person would be suspended. Fun narrative, let alone that only 1 player in the history of Crosby's career has ever been suspended for all the shots he's taken. But sure, now the NHL will start protecting their star right?
Amazingly enough, last year in the playoffs something similar happened to Crosby, from none other than fellow star player Alex Ovechkin. Crosby left the ice angrily, fearing that his playoffs were over due to a possible injury. Here's what he said after the game:
"Yeah, I thought it was worse than it was," Crosby said after the 3-2 overtime win in Game 4. "I don't think it was anything other than that. Initially you think maybe you're not coming back, so it's not a great feeling, but I don't think there was any intention there. I'm trying to keep a puck in and he's trying to make sure that I don't. He caught me there, but that's part of it.
So Sid pretty much lets Ovechkin off the hook for the slash, again calling it part of the game. Here that one is by the way:
I can't believe Crosby slashed someone on the hands! No one else ever does that! pic.twitter.com/Q2O5Bns3hG— Mike Necciai (@Michael29Angelo) March 24, 2017
Ideally it shouldn't be a normalized part of the game for hockey players to be waving their sticks around at the hands of others. But you can thank the NHL and how the officials call games for that and allowing it to become a part of the culture of the sport that players accept these slashes to the hand as "part of the game".
It's a shame Marc Methot's finger exploded. It was not good of Crosby to slash him. However the regrettable part really is because of who did it, fans will latch on and add this to a piece of Crosby's legacy (a game after he slashes Ryan O'Reilly in the nads, no less). Sid put himself in that position, but he surely is not the only NHL player who this could have happened to.