Is Sidney Crosby a dirty player?


dirtycrosby.jpgMaybe it’s just because it is the summer time or perhaps his gold medal winning goal forced people to eat some crow, but the cottage industry on hating Sidney Crosby dried up a bit lately.

For those of you who simply don’t have the same spring in your step unless the NHL’s golden child is getting run through the mud, you might find this little nugget interesting. A lot of bloggers are putting their own sardonic twists on Puck Daddy’s popular Mount Rushmore feature, so it’s little surprise that the irreverent Penguins blog The Pensblog created their “Mount Dirtymore” which chronicles the team’s dirtiest players of the last 20 years.

(Naturally, the “dirty” scoring system is based on the quantity of Cristina Aguileras each player “earns.”)

crosbyfights.jpgThree of the players won’t leave Penguins fans (or fans of teams who despise the Penguins) with their jaws dropped by any means: Ulf Samuelsson is a notorious villain, Matt Cooke made plenty of enemies in his career, particularly last season and Billy Tibbets … well, he’s just kind of creepy.

Yet casual fans might be surprised to see the Second Savior of the Franchise, Sidney Crosby on that Photoshop. Here is the explanation from Pensblog. (You should click on the link anyway, even if it’s just to see their “shocked faces” GIFs, which include Apollo Creed’s wife reacting to her boxer husband’s tragic in-ring death in “Rocky IV.”)

As is the case with all great players, they are constantly hounded, sticked, hooked, speared, etc., every time they hop over the bench.

Is that a built-in excuse for some of Crosby’s dirty plays? Most likely.
But you’ll be hard-pressed to find multiple clips of dudes like Kane and Toews doing this kind of stuff.

To me, there are two types of sports fans: pom-pom waving types who believe in their teams blindly and glass half-empty types who are willing to acknowledge the flaws of their favorites. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being in either group, but I subscribe to the latter club and cannot deny that the same competitive fire that drives Crosby also pushes him to do some regrettable things. The considerable communal vitriol for Crosby can be over the top at times, but he does earn at least some of that disdain by breaking the rules.

Now that you have my take, I need to know how you feel. Is Crosby a dirty player or just a competitor? Cast your vote in the poll below.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado