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Sidney Crosby is playing on the edge, but is failed by the NHL

Sidney Crosby is not the cleanest player in the league, but he also shows why consistent punishment needs to be in place.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Sidney Crosby has a ‘reputation’ in the NHL. If you’re anti-Crosby, he whines and dives and gets special treatment on a daily basis, and if you’re a certain NHL owner, you think he can get away with murder. If you’re pro-Crosby you can argue that he takes way more abuse than normal players in the NHL.

But really, Crosby is a player who is not squeaky clean when he plays. He plays hard, rough and sometimes crosses the line of clean with dirty and reckless. But Crosby is a shining example of what can happen when dangerous plays are not called and the consequences of inconsistent punishments have in the league.

The Bad and The Ugly Side

Crosby, recently, has been more aggressive and on the edge of clean and/or dirty plays.

WARNING: This is the Marc Methot Injury Video. Watch at your own discretion.

Eugene Melnyk is doing Melnyk things and saying that Crosby should be suspended for the rest of the season. That’s a bit harsh, and unrealistic. What happened to Methot, after watching way too many times than I want to admit, was a freak accident. Yes, it should have been a penalty. It was a slash to the hands and should consistently called. Even a double minor if you’re feeling frisky.

But this isn’t the first time Crosby has been in the ‘spotlight’ of playing on the edge.

Remember when it looked like he slewfooted Cedric Paquette during the Eastern Conference Finals last year?

Or when the Coyotes played the Penguins and this funny moment happened in February of this year?

Crosby was gently butt-ending Smith in the stomach and fun zone, which causes Smith to play with the back of his helmet.

Or that time in 2008 when he punched Former Atlanta Thrasher Boris Valabik in the nether regions.

Or when he was petty during the 2012 playoffs and did this with Jakub Voracek’s glove and it caused a melee?

These are just some of the more egregious examples of how Crosby has been on the edge.

So many people call for him to suspended with certain actions, see; Methot, anything from the 2012 series and even that potential slewfoot on Paquette, which is a fair argument.

The Good Side, if you want to put it that way

Sidney Crosby is targeted by the other team. Penguins fans are well aware of this and expect at least one slash/hack/cheap play against Crosby a game.

This season, a good example is when he was boarded by Tampa Bay Defenseman Luke Witkowski took Crosby into the boards awkwardly with a crosscheck and was assessed no penalty.

Everyone remembers the battle that was last year’s playoffs. Alex Ovechkin and his nasty slash to Crosby’s wrist/hand is another good example. You can even hear Crosby yelling obscenities when he was slashed.

Marc Methot could have been called for a clip on this play. This play started the end of Pascal Dupuis’ career and could have seriously injured Crosby and Dupuis more than he already was.

Brandon Dubinsky is a multiple offender, and this is just one time Crosby stood up for himself. Dubinsky came in to deliver a high hit, with his stick up and Crosby went ‘f this, I’m done’ and fought him.

What I couldn’t find were the multiple crosschecks from Marc Staal during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 playoffs to Crosby’s neck and head. Staal was never called on those nor was ever suspended for these acts.

With Crosby’s given concussion and neck injury history, these are the types of things that need to be called constantly and taken out of the game.

Inconsistency Caused The Problem

But when you look at the history that has been allowed to happen to Crosby, without penalties, you start to wonder if this is a Sidney Crosby being ‘protected’ or if this is a Sidney Crosby is being ‘targeted and ignored’ issue.

Pete DeBoer brought this up a few seasons ago when Robert Bortuzzo hit Jaromir Jagr. Said if that happened to Crosby, it would start World War 4.

This is where the inconsistency issue comes into play. I like to think Jeff Marek said it best last week.

Crosby doesn’t get the calls like he used to when he was younger. This could be based on referee and linesmen bias, which is not how you want games to be called.

The inconsistency of officiating is the main issue that comes out of everything. The officiating this season has been some of the worst that I have seen in the five years that I have been watching hockey. If you call a dangerous crosscheck on one player, but not the next, that causes a major issue.

Players thinking they can get away with dangerous penalties is going to come back to bite the NHL when someone is seriously injured by a crosscheck or a boarding that isn’t called. Crosschecks to the neck and head, which Crosby has been subjected to most in the past years, have been called and suspended. Crosby just hasn’t seen that outcome.

All in all, Sidney Crosby is a player playing on the edge, but he is also being failed by the system that is supposed to protect players.