Coming into Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers, NHL poster boy Sidney Crosby only had one career fight. Well, you can now double that total as Crosby, obviously frustrated by the Pittsburgh Penguins’ poor play, dropped the mitts today and pummeled an unprepared Brett McLean. Crosby lost his cool with Pittsburgh down 4-1 to Florida. He barely waited for the linesman to drop the puck before grabbing a surprised McLean, pulling his jersey over his head, and starting to feed him punch after punch. McLean managed to recover from the unprovoked attack, and even got in a couple of blind uppercuts before the linesmen got in a broke up the fight. Crosby was assessed 17 minutes in penalties on the play, including an instigator penalty for starting the fight. The Penguins went on to lose the game 6-1
The Crosby fight against McLean isn’t his first cheap shot this season. Crosby also made headlines when he sucker punched Atlanta tough guy Boris Valabik between the legs as Valabik was tangled up with another Penguins player. Crosby received no discipline for that particular incident, but hockey fans around North America expressed disgust over the incident. Crosby said he was reacting to Valabik after he thought he injured his knee after Valabik put him down.
Whatever Crosby’s reasons for his actions it is abundantly clear that he is very frustrated with his team’s recent performance. Pittsburgh has gone a woeful 3-7 in their last 10 contests and now finds themselves out of the playoffs looking in, currently sitting 9th in the Eastern Conference. During the skid they’ve had embarrassing losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and now the Florida Panthers. Despite having the league’s leading scorer in Evgeni Malkin and the third leading scorer in Crosby the Penguins’ offense has completely dried up, and their defense and goaltending hasn’t been able to make up for the dearth of goal-scoring.
It will be interesting to see if the trend continues and we start to see Sidney Crosby in more fights. Stars like Jarome Iginla and Vincent Lecavalier have made a name for themselves as talented tough guys, unafraid to drop the gloves whenever their team needs an emotional boost. Those two players always conduct themselves with honor, however. They square off against their opponent and go toe to toe, rather than attacking them from behind or jumping them off a faceoff. If Crosby wants to inspire his teammates, he will need to learn to handle matters more honorably.