Tuesday, April 17, 2007

True Confessions

One of my favorite things about the playoffs is the ability to watch teams I don't get to see regularly during the season. Throw in the extra heat and passion of post-season play and you're almost always seeing them at their best. (Sorry, Calgary and Atlanta.) It's during this time that I end up forming attachments to players who don't play for the Sabres. It's when I first took notice of Jarome Iginla. It's when I fell in love with Scott Niedermayer. It's just so fun to see other players in a new and different light. Well, the same thing has happened this year and the new love is... Sidney Crosby.

Yeah, I said Sidney Crosby.

First of all, it's made a HUGE difference watching the Ottawa/Pittsburgh series on CBC instead of NBC or Versus. On the latter two networks, they never stop talking about Crosby. Never, ever, ever, no matter how well or not well he's playing. At the end of the season a Pittsburgh/Buffalo game was on Versus and even though Crosby had no points, a -1, and got suckered into a really bad, poorly timed penalty, he was the center of every conversation. The Sabres played a very good game, their best in a while at that point, almost completely shutting down the Pens' vaunted offense, and won the game 4-1. About all they got from the broadcasters was, "Whoa, Henrik Tallinder saw Sidney Crosby coming and fell right over! Hahahahahhahah!" Gimme a break, dudes. I've always had the sneaking suspicion that I would enjoy watching Crosby more if people would shut up and let me watch him and lo and behold, it was true. On CBC they point him out when he's involved in the play and of course comment on how talented he is but if he's not on the ice they do a pretty good job of leaving him out of things. And they don't go on incessantly about Sid and Mario having pancakes and eggs together every morning. Thank you for that, CBC.

And you know what? Having the chance to watch him without having him shoved down my throat has really allowed me to see that he's pretty damn good. He's skilled, he's strong, he has the ability to take over the ice no matter who's on the ice with him. I have to keep reminding myself that he's 19 years old. Nineteen! I'm also super impressed with his maturity level. He's so young (19!) and he came into the league with so many expectations: He was expected to be great right away, he was expected to give the league a marquee star, someone who could compete with LeBron James and Tom Brady and Albert Pujols on the pro sports scene. For the most part, he's done it and done it with a semblance of grace not found in a lot of young athletes. He seems to patiently and happily answer question after question from reporter after reporter. Yeah, there's usually a hint of media training in his answers which tends to stop him from saying anything overly interesting but he's more than accepted his part in putting the NHL out there. I mean, I could only handle situations like the below so many times before I started grumping at people to just leave me the heck alone.

Does he sometimes embellish? Yeah, maybe. But let's be honest, people, we all have that guy on our team. Even if we don't like it, have you ever been upset when it drew a penalty that led to a powerplay goal? Is he whiny? Yeah, sometimes. But I'm willing to cut him a little slack for a couple of reasons. One, he's young (1!9!) and I think he'll learn to deal with officials better with experience and maturity. Two, he is getting the stuffing pounded out of him. I never really understood what Pittsburgh fans were complaining about in this regard but now that I've watched their playoff series, I'm starting to get it. Don't get me wrong... The opposing team should absolutely be targeting Crosby, especially if it's going to put him off his game. But the "new NHL" (how long before we can quit calling it that?) is supposed to be protecting quick, skilled players and the maddeningly inconsistent officiating must be extremely frustrating. It ticks me off and I'm only watching. Crosby's getting grabbed, hooked, and tripped all over the place. While I was writing this, number 5 for Ottawa practically latched on to Sid's back and Sid carried him halfway around the rink, keeping possession of the puck the whole time I might add. Are you kidding me? That's not a penalty? I might whine too.

My very favorite thing about Sidney Crosby though is that he plays with a very clear fervor and love for the game of hockey. Considering that he's been the next great one since he was 8, it would've been really easy for hockey to become a job, something he merely worked at. It would've been really easy for him to lose touch with the little boy who started playing hockey because he loved it. But he hasn't. And I hope he never does.

So yeah... I love Sidney Crosby! Wanna make something of it?!


Interchangeable Parts said...

Thanks for this confessional! I, too, hated Sid with the fire of a thousand suns... until watching that six-point game against Philly where he took over the scoring lead this season. He is just really, well... good. But you're so right the non-Pens fan can't help but resent him for how much we're told about how great he is regardless of what he's doing in any given game. That said, it can be quite fun to just roll with the media slurping him so much. In that six-point game Pierre McGuire was doing his "inside the glass" thing and was nearly orgasmic every time they turned his mic on. I'm sure there's a drinking game in this somewhere, but I haven't ironed out the specifics -- you'd probably kill yourself if you just drank every time the announcers gushed about how dreamy Sid is...

Ellie said...

wow heather b.! i had to scroll down to your name before i finished reading just to make sure it was really you!

i'm glad you're appreciating what us pens fans have been blessed with for the past two seasons. and yes - watching games on nbc or versus is extremely annoying for the all the crosby talk. personally I turn on the radio broadcast and put the tv on mute.

yeah the generic media responses get old, but watching sid score goals never does - he's incredible. i'd be pissed too if he played against us!

Elly said...

Excuse me while I get up and clap.

Seriously, thank you! I'll be the first to say that hearing the announcers talk with their lips firmly pressed to Sidney's behind is irritating, but there are reasons that Pens fans are in love with him...his amazing ability to skate rink-wide with a defenseman literally attached to him is one of them.

When I can get my computer to work, I usually do the same thing as Ellie does: watch the game and listen to the radio, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

CapsChick said...

Okay, let me just say that I admit freely and without being poked with a cattle prod that Sidney Crosby is an amazing player.

BUT having said that...

...I hate him. Sorry, ladies! I do not share your love of all things Crosby. Give me Ovie over Sid anyday - and yes, Heather, I wanna make something of it. ;)

Sasky said...

I love sidney and I hate sidney. It really just depends what's happening and what day of the week it is.

But my Jordy Staal love? Now that is strong and tue!

Jordi said...

As soon as you posted this, my stomach turned stick and I had to throw everything in my stomach up, true story.

And you will not do much in making the overlord mad!

Heather B. said...

Elly/Ellie: I figured you guys would be pleased. My husband pointed out that I've started calling him "Sid" instead of "Crosby" which was the first sign that I was beginning to like him. I always refer to players I like by their firstname or nickname. Our radio broadcast has never synced up with games but we finally figured out that with the DVR we can pause the game until it's in line with the radio. Yes, it only took us almost 2 complete seasons to figure this out. So from now on that's what we're going to do. Hopefully that will help ease the Sidney overload.

CC: Don't get me wrong, I still love Ovie. He's completely missing that self-edit button Sid has and I love watching him play as well. But I've come to the conclusion that since I'm not a Pens fan or a Caps fan, I don't have to choose. I can love both! Yes, I can!

Sasky: I've been super impressed with Jordan too. I've still trying to move past the fact that he's related to Eric however. I'm coming around but I could use a little more time.

flick said...

I had to admit I liked Crosby too after watching in the All Star game and then days later when the Penguins played here in Dallas, and I was amazed even without scoring The Kid is a machine! Once we got to OT even the youngest Stars players looked tired, and Crosby didn't even appear to be breathing heavy. And it helps that I've almost never gotten to watch him on TV and therefore haven't had to listen to the constant yapping from commentators.

KMS2 said...

I agree that Versus and NBC ALWAYS talk about him, but I don't mind since I heart Crosby. If the Capitals were in the playoffs, I wonder if Ovechkin would garner this much attention.
Other players that I became fans of while watching the playoffs:
2000: Scott Gomez
2006: Daniel Briere

american oil said...

I have to say, I am with you all on this. I was prepared to dislike him, expected to dislike him, I hate all players that are touted to be the "next best thing"....but I will be honest.....I *heart* Crosby. Not just for his playing, not just for his amazing hands and more incredible skating....but like Heather said, the purity of the love of the game for him. I think he if lost that, the magic would be lost.

As much as I hate to listen to all the "Sid the Kid" crap, I also can't imagine what it would be like to have live up to those expections everyday. To have the pressures, your right, interviews are anything but thrilling, however, I also know that he is the perfect example of a super star for my 5 year old hockey crazed daughter to idolize!

I just look at him an Staal (who I got to watch in the WHL), Malkin...and say......I can't wait to watch these kids in about 5 years!

Paige said...

I think Sid and Sabres fans have a certain 'bond'. He's just has such a way of doing the best thing possible at the best time possible.

Now I have to come up with an 'evil' plan to convert him onto the Sabres. *dun dun dun*

Elly said...

Paige: Shhhhh! Do not say such things, my delicate ears cannot take it!