From the front page of this morning's Ottawa Citizen, comes a gem of an article from sports"writer" Hugh Adami, chastising Senators fans for booing Sidney Crosby, the opposing team's best player, in the opening game of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Sid, the poor kid, really got it the other night at Scotiabank Place, where boo-birds were perched on every seat of the building, ready to squawk whenever he had the puck.I have difficultly seeing Sidney Crosby described as a poor kid in any sense, not in his wealth nor in the maturity he shows off the ice, nor the experience-beyond-his-years he shows on the ice, nor the surliness he shows between whistles. While I personally wouldn't boo Crosby, I fully respect the right of others to do so. Crosby is a fantastic player who will serve Canada well in years to come, and who I have no problem admiring and supporting when he's playing any team but my own. But when we're at Scotiabank Place during the playoffs, we're not hockey fans. We're not Canadian hockey fans. We're not Sidney Crosby fans. We're Senators Fans. As such, we'll do everything within our power to support our team, either through cheering them on or denigrating the opposition.
Even when Crosby scored late in the third period, with victory already well out of sight for Pittsburgh, you might have thought that some Senators fans would have had the decency to cheer his first NHL playoff goal.
Funny, how Adami makes no request for Senators fans to ravenously applaud Jordan Staal's first playoff goal. Or perhaps that would be insulting to our team since the game was still within reach for Pittsburgh at that point. So tell us, Mr. Adami, should we applaud Evgeni Malkin's first playoff goal should it come tomorrow at Scotiabank Place? Would it be appropriate only if the game was out of reach? Or would it never be appropriate, since he's Russian (surely he won't receive the Order of Canada)? Inappropriate, because, star as he may be, he's not on the level with Crosby? Should Pittsburgh fans cheer raucously everytime Dany Heatley or Jason Spezza touches the puck? After all, they'll be proudly serving Canadian hockey for years to come as well. Or perhaps only Patrick Eaves, good American footsoldier that he is? Should Pittsburgh writers be up in arms if Penguins fans fail to celebrate a goal by Daniel Alfredsson, especially - heaven forbid - if the game is out of reach for the Senators? Or does this kind of sickeningly-good sportsmanship only apply in Canada? Or only apply to the Senators? Or only apply when the Citizen just wants to sell papers?
The NHL's top scorer this season, with 120 points, and the second best last season, with 102 points, was booed. And booed again when the goal was announced. The game ended 6-3.I suppose Mr. Adami should inform Toronto Maple Leafs fans that the booing of top scorers such as Daniel Alfredsson is inappropriate? Or perhaps politely make Atlanta fans aware that Heatley, betrayer of their city he might be, should be cheered every he touches the puck, doubly so if he scores? Or is that ok, because neither player is the second coming of Gretzky? Nevermind the fact that both outscored the Phenom last year (this is called a fact. As opposed to a "fact", such as Mr. Adami claiming that Crosby's 102-point campaign was good for second in the league in 05-06).
No, Mr. Adami was still envisioning Roberts in a Senators jersey. Fans were well aware that, desirable as Roberts may have been to busybody sports writers, Muckler's "old buddy" had absolutely no interest in dealing with his former team, unless it involved a fleecing that would make the Luongo trade look "kind of alright" for Florida in comparison.
Was Gary Roberts, a wrecking machine against the Senators when he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, booed when he had the puck or when he let Anton Volchenkov know that he's a pretty good hitter, too?
Fans were probably still envisioning how great Roberts would have looked in a Senators jersey had general manager John Muckler been able to get him at the trade deadline from his old buddy, ex-Senators coach Jacques Martin, who is still in exile with the Florida Panthers.
It never used to be this way when big Canadian talent visited Ottawa with their teams to play the Senators. Wayne Gretzky was given such a sendoff in April 1999 when he played his last game on Canadian ice at the then-Corel Centre that the Senators forgot about winning the game and the chance of finishing first in the Eastern Conference. They settled for a 2-2 tie, even though Gretzky did remind them at one point during the third period that they should stop the saluting because they had other business to worry about.If, in twenty years, Crosby has rewritten every record there is to be written, won every award there is to be won, served his country and teams with class and honour, become the greatest hockey player ever by every objective definition, and plays his final Canadian game at the Scotiabank Place, I will applaud him loudly and proudly. I'll save the adulation until then; for this two week stretch in April, he's just an enemy on the opposition team.
But Crosby said yesterday that the loud, hostile crowd at Scotiabank Place didn't bother him at all and certainly didn't affect his game -- although he didn't have much of one before that third-period goal.Strange, I would expect him to make excuses and say the reason he didn't have a shot on net for the first half of the game was because the fans were getting in the "poor kid's" head. Or he's a professional, and knows how to deal with it, both in tuning it out on the ice, and in responding to it in the media. Mr. Adami, as much as you are trying to baby Crosby, which do you think is more likely?
Crosby will do his job on the ice; Senators fans will do their job off it. This isn't classless, it's playoff hockey.