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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Crosby needs a history lesson

There are two pictures that have become part of the blue print of hockey's code of ethics: Bobby Baun scoring an overtime goal in Game 6 of the 1964 Stanley Cup final returning after being removed from the ice on a stretcher with a broken foot; and Montreal legend Rocket Richard, blood dripping down his face, shaking hands with Boston goalie Sugar Jim Henry, eyes blackened, after Game 7 of the Cup semifinals of 1952.

No, I'm not old enough to remember either event. Not quite.

But that's not the point. If you grew up playing hockey, the two traits for which those two famous photos stand were taught to you.

Baun is hockey's poster child for playing through pain. There aren't many games where there isn't some level of hurt involved. If Baun could do that on a broken foot -- and the man came back for a regular shift in Toronto's Game 7 win in the Cup final -- then being out of breath or having a bruise on your leg is not that great an ailment.

The Richard/Henry photo is the classic postgame handshake in this sport's history.
The Rocket had left the game early, having suffered a concussion. But he returned and scored the winning goal on Henry, who had played his Bruins within one victory of the Stanley Cup final.

The picture of the two battered men, respectfully shaking hands -- Henry is somewhat bent over, appearing to be slightly bowing to Richard -- says a lot about the handshake that ends an NHL playoff series.

The handshake is the ultimate sign of respect and tradition. It is the way that hard-fought series have ended for generations.

Sidney Crosby certainly lived up to hockey tradition in the style of Bobby Baun. Coming back in Game 7 against the Red Wings after suffering a painful knee injury was admirable.

But Crosby failed miserably when compared to his predecessors in the tradition of the handshake.

Crosby celebrated at one corner of the Joe Louis Arena ice surface last Friday while the Red Wings waited. He kept celebrating when Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom led his teammates to center ice. And Crosby continued to celebrate while Penguins like Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz -- Crosby's wingers -- were the first to greet the Red Wings at center ice.

Crosby made his way to the handshake line late, getting in just a half-dozen or so before returning to the Penguins' celebration.

And that was perhaps the best reason I've ever seen for not having a 21-year-old as your captain. It was an immature act by someone who needed to lead, not be in the conga line. Guerin acted like a leader on that team.

Crosby was not caught up in anything but his own moment when he didn't join the handshake line. Other than a network interview or two, there was no media allowed on the ice surface until 20 minutes after the game. There was no one allowed out there other than the people that came through the Pittsburgh locker room.

In other words, there wasn't a whole lot to get done other than shake hands. And if you ask me, shaking hands with the team that you just dethroned as hockey's champions would be something that I'd be quite eager to do.

Shaking hands after a series or tournament or individual game is something that Sidney Crosby has been doing since he was 4 or 5 years old. He did it at the World Juniors. I'm sure he did it at Shattuck St. Mary's. He did it playing Timbits hockey as a kid. It's not something that snuck up on him.

To me, Crosby joining the handshake line late made him look like a young man absorbed in himself, fixated on his personal glory.

That's not something you want in a captain. It's most certainly not something you want in the player who is the face of the entire league.

Rocket Richard found his way to the handshake line less than an hour after suffering a concussion. Sidney Crosby was unable to do the same.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


The comment about "a young man absorbed in himself, fixated on his personal glory" was not only reinforced, but thrown into glaring spotlight when Crosby told the AP:

"I", (not we, mind you), but "I just won the Stanley Cup."

Pathetic display from Super Mario, too, in practically crediting Crosby for the Cup single-handedly while the rest of the scrubs apparently did nothing more than stand around in awe and watch Sid go to work.

June 17, 2009 at 5:54 PM 
Anonymous Mike Canada said...

Nice read and interesting perspective. I was at the game and noticed the Wings standing around but I was so caught up in the moment that I didn't consciously count how long they were waiting for Crosby to skate over (after shaking hands with every other Pens player). So how long was it really?

Also, did you mean to put "Sidney Crosby was UNABLE to do the same" in the final sentence?

If you can get your hands on it, can you post all the voting results of the NHL awards after it happens tomorrow night?

Thanks for everything this season! I really enjoy checking your blog. Hopefully you can update it daily next season!

June 17, 2009 at 6:00 PM 
Anonymous Joanie said...

Excellent article. I've been reading all of the fan blogs regarding this incident, with Pens and Wings fans alike, getting vicious. Your article sums up EXACTLY how I felt about a lack of respect, class, maturity and yes, toughness. Sidney Crosby may be skilled, but he is no Yzerman.

June 17, 2009 at 9:31 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very true how he has been shaking hands with teams his whole life. He was very disrespectful at the end of game seven which I noticed right away. He did shake hands with Babcock, but blew him off. He needs to shave the peach fuzz off his face and GROW UP! I agree that Guerin was their leader after the game and a veteran like him should be leading a team instead of a child. Go Wings, plenty of good seasons ahead of us.

June 18, 2009 at 9:18 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets hope that his name is spelled wrong on the cup. Sindey would be good, but Cindy would be better.

June 18, 2009 at 1:33 PM 
Anonymous Hockey25 said...

How ridiculous! The Redwings players gave Crosby less time to shake hands than what the Penguins were expected to give them last year! You could actually say that the Redwings were the disrespectful ones here! I've read that they made the Carolina team wait almost 10 min. after winning the Cup a few years ago! This just goes to show that the Redwings aren't the "class" of the league. They were so disappointed that their "sure" victory didn't happen that they had to find some way to make it not about their loss. Get over it! You lost. Move on and act like you've been there before. Sore losers!

June 18, 2009 at 1:41 PM 
Blogger Bruce MacLeod said...

Hey Hockey25. Well you might have read that the Wings made Carolina wait in 2002, but I can give you a first-hand report on that. I was there in 2009, 2008, 2002 and in 1998 when the Wings were in the Stanley Cup final. Detroit did not make Carolina wait long for a hand shake in 2002.

One question for you about Crosby and the handshake ... Why was your captain the last man to go through the line? Why were Guerin and Kuntiz there a long time before Crosby was?

June 18, 2009 at 1:51 PM 
Blogger Bruce MacLeod said...

Mike Canada ... thanks for the catch.

I will try to post awards voting if and when I can. Good idea.

June 18, 2009 at 1:51 PM 
Blogger John said...

I am so embarrassed as a hockey player that Sidney Crosby is the face of my sport.

I just made the picture of Sugar Jim Henry my desktop background at work.

I played last night with a sore hip, knee and groin. But two of our captains were out. During some festivities in the 2nd period, I hog tied my teammate and dragged him out of them to end them.

At the end of the game, I congratulated all of the players on the other team, that were not ejected, for being good sports.

I am always last in line at handshakes, because I shake all of my own team first, and I also make sure that all of my team mates get in line to shake hands, even last night I had to drag a guy away from the ref and put him in line. I told the ref, "he can come back after the handshake."

We won 6-1. We utterly destroyed and demoralized them. Considering we had 9 minor penalties including 3 5-3's against it was an ugly game. But every one of their guys who played hard, and played with maturity and grit and stuck out the whole game despite the lopsided nature deserved the respect of every player on my bench and I am going to make sure they get it.

I would not take Crosby on my amateur team if he begged me. I do not need someone who is such a poor sport to embarrass me or his teammates or his opponents on the ice. This is a game about passion and respect. Without opponents, you cannot play the game.

Last, why did Maxime Talbot not win the Conn Smyth? I would have voted Talbot-Orpik-Letang for Conn Smyth. I also healvily debate Fedotenko on that. Without the defensive work of those three guys and the offense Talbot contributed the series would have lasted 4 games and the penguins would have a short summer to think about losing a 2nd time.

June 19, 2009 at 11:21 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hockey25 seems to be in love with sindey. Hmmmm? Watch the replay fool.

June 20, 2009 at 9:48 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you winers at this Blog seen the video? Crosby was hounded by the media, and he made his way over as fast as he could. His team took time to celebrate. If I remember correctly, the Wings took their good old time to celebrate in Pittsburgh after game six of 2008. The penguins waited patiently, shook hands, and took it like men. Crosby has no stake in shunning several members of the losing team. This complaint is Draper's attempt to be relevant, probably because he knows he was a passenger for his cup victories. The simple fact is that it is up to the losing team to wait for the winning team to finish the celebration. The Wings couldn't take the loss at the Joe. They got out of there as soon as possible.

By the way, I don't remember the Penguins fans booing during the cup presentation. Don't give me any crap about it being about the commissioner, either. The fans should have known how it would look.

Sidney Crosby owes no apology. In the meantime, it looks like you fellows in Detroit have something else to cry about. Let's so Obama bail you out of this one.

June 21, 2009 at 8:34 PM 
Blogger Bruce MacLeod said...

Thanks Anonymous for the feedback. I'd appreciate if you held off on name calling like whiners. And it would help if you could spell whiners too.

A couple of factual things though ...

The Wings waited for the Penguins. No Wing left the ice until Guerin and others came to center ice. My question is still why didn't Crosby join in? And unless you were there to tell me otherwise ... I was there ... I'm not buying the media hounding thing. Crosby had a couple of TV interviews, no more. No other media other than national TV were allowed on the ice until 20 minutes after the game. And are you saying that Crosby was the first Cup winning captain to be too busy to join the handshake line? Gretzky never was? Messier never was? Why are you saying that Crosby went through something different than any NHL captain before him? Don't you think that Yzerman had the same duties? He managed to make the handshake line in time.

Second, the Wings didn't get out of there as soon as possible. I watched. They waited for the initial line. Then some of them waited at the end of the line for Crosby.

That said, I think your other thoughts are valid. Detroit should be ashamed of booing when the Cup was presented and cheering when Crosby was hurt. I didn't like either crowd reaction. And both of those things are worse than Crosby screwing up the handshake line.

That said, Crosby did screw up on handshakes. Why does everyone want to make excuses for him? No big deal. He screwed up, not as bad as a crowd cheering an injury, but Crosby screwed up. No excuses for either.

June 21, 2009 at 8:46 PM 

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