Sidney Crosby handles Rangers heckler in best way possible

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Usually, the prevailing wisdom is “not to feed the trolls,” but Sidney Crosby presents a different option: kill them with kindness?

In what’s become a delightful viral moment, Crosby showed appreciation for an especially creative heckler by making sure that the fan – identified by ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski as Nick Lipeika – by getting a trainer to hand him an autographed stick as the Penguins bombarded the Rangers 7-2 on Wednesday.

The stick didn’t just feature Crosby’s signature, either, as the Penguins star wrote “Good chirps. Take it easy on me next time.”

This would already be great stuff, but it goes up a notch when you consider that Crosby is a) known for being competitive to the point of nastiness, and b) often blander than plain oatmeal during interviews.

Now, was he being nicer because the Penguins were blowing out the Rangers, as you can see from the highlights above this post’s main image? Sure, but this is great stuff either way.

Speaking of great stuff, Wyshynski compiled some of Lipeika’s barbs, including these gems:

“Hey Crosby, when Gatorade wanted a tough guy, Justin Bieber turned them down so they settled for you.”

“Hey Crosby, Malkin wants to know where your Calder Memorial Trophy is.”

Honestly, we’ve gotten to the point where it’s tough to really get a good burn in on Crosby, particularly if you don’t want to devolve to gross misogyny (don’t go the misogyny route). Crosby’s accomplished virtually everything you can imagine in hockey, so noting that Alex Ovechkin beat him in the 2006 Calder Trophy race is a quality deep cut.

(I mean, it won’t hurt, but it’s pretty solid.)

You could argue that Crosby’s made some low-key new fans with this gesture, even if they might not realize it fully just yet. Lipeika told Wyshynski that Crosby “moved up a few spots” for him, while nearby Rangers fan Michael Gross provided a similar thought to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen.

“The coolest part was getting to like a guy I’ve grown to hate as a Rangers fan,” Gross said. “He was having fun with us and shot back a few times. It was unreal to interact with one of the best players in the history of the game in such a cool and unique way. When the stick came over, it was a cool shock, but the guy earned it. He had our entire row in stitches.”

This is heartwarming stuff, particularly in contrast to the lousy comments Max Comtois recently endured.

Maybe the lesson is that clever hecklers could get rewarded, while cruel ones should be ignored? There are worse things to strive for in 2019.

Crosby wasn’t the only Penguins player whose equipment was noteworthy in that game, as Evgeni Malkin‘s skates served as a tribute to his hometown:

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.