Sidney Crosby

Stop Diving Sidney!

by Mark Owens

At 5’11, 200 pounds, Crosby is one of the most powerful, explosive skaters in the NHL, yet he crumpled to his knees when 180-pound Straka leaned on him Friday night, drawing a penalty. Heck, even featherweight Petr Prucha doesn’t hit the ice that easily. The fact that the referees called such a marginal penalty with three minutes left in a 3-3 playoff game is another story.

The referees are going way overboard in calling every borderline foul on Crosby. He is taking advantage of the preferential treatment he is given, making a mockery of the rule book and basically calling the league’s ‘ and its referees’ bluff by embellishing fouls to draw power plays, including during crucial junctures of playoff games.

They need to warn him and if necessary give him two minutes for diving ‘ without handing out the typical cop-out coincidental penalty along with his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. When was the last time a referee called a diving penalty without calling the other team for a hook or hold? You either have a diving rule and enforce it, or you don’t.

Now don’t get me wrong, Sid the Kid’s an awesome player and not the only diver in the league (fellow superstar Peter Forsberg comes to mind). The league and its referees should certainly protect him from cheap shots. However, despite warning him in the past, the referees are constantly being tricked into calling unnecessary penalties because Sidney is great at falling to the ice, grabbing his chin, throwing his head back, removing his mouth piece/glaring at the referees, or whatever else it takes to draw his team a power play.

That was in full display against the Rangers on March 30th at the Igloo. With Pittsburgh leading 2-1 early in the third period, Crosby was clipped (possibly) by a Scott Gomez high stick and immediately grabbed his face, drawing a penalty. NBC’s Pierre McGuire accused Crosby of faking it. Somehow, Crosby found out (probably because Pierre manages to add commentary from between the team benches) and went to McGuire to dispute that, even showing him a black mark on his mouthpiece, apparently from the tape on the errant high stick. McGuire immediately cowered, apologizing profusely. Sorry, Sid, if no one believes you. Boy who cried wolf, anyone?

The league needs to control this problem, and Crosby needs to play a more honest brand of hockey. Mark Recchi was basically run out of Pittsburgh in 2006 for ‘clashing’ with Sidney by telling him to stop complaining to the refs and diving. Playing alongside men like Recchi, John LeClair and Gary Roberts apparently hasn’t helped Crosby ‘ then again, he is playing for one of the best divers of all time, Mario Lemieux.

Jaromir Jagr, who knows a little something about fighting through checks, was absolutely right for calling Sidney out during game two Sunday, after a push from Fedor Tyutin sent Crosby to the ice like he was a six-year old girl, drawing another Penguins power play.

If you think Crosby’s acting skills are generating a lot of negative press now, how do you think his behavior is going to play in Montreal next round (should those teams advance), when Sid’s dives help the Penguins win a game in hockey’s mecca, the Montreal Forum (sorry, can’t get myself to call it the Bell Centre, or whatever it’s name is these days)? The league needs to handle this problem now, before its reputation ‘ and Crosby’s ‘ sinks even lower. Is this the type of publicity the NHL had in mind for Sidney Crosby?

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