Pens' Crosby denies swearing at Ottawa's Murray

| Thursday, March 22, 2007

RYE, N.Y. - Penguins star Sidney Crosby doesn't want to get into a war of words with Ottawa Senators coach Bryan Murray.

But Crosby was emphatic Wednesday when he said he did not swear at Murray during the game between the two teams Sunday, an accusation made by the Senators coach.

"He should get his facts straight," Crosby said after the Penguins practiced at the Rye Playland ice arena. "I wasn't even talking to him. If he's going to say anything, he should be honest and say what he said and move on. If he doesn't want to do that, if he wants to start something with me, I'm not going to be a part of it. If he wants to say stuff, he should get his facts straight."

In published reports Tuesday out of Ottawa, Murray was quoted as saying, "He's one of those young people, and rightly so, that the league is really promoting as the example of the new NHL. When he turns, and I'm sure he's on camera quite often, using the language he does, I don't think that's something he should do. That's all."

Murray told reporters he was yelling at referee Don Koharski, saying that Crosby took a dive on a play in which Mike Comrie was penalized. Murray said Crosby then turned and yelled at him.

Crosby doesn't deny exchanging words with one of the Senators players on the bench. The 19-year-old star and leading scorer in the NHL said that perhaps Murray heard that exchange and was sticking up for his player. But Crosby said he wasn't even looking at Murray when the incident happened.

"Why would I yell at Bryan Murray?" Crosby said. "That's what I want to know."

It's not the first time an opposing coach has criticized Crosby.

Last season, it was then-Philadelphia Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock, who called Crosby a diver. This season, New York Islanders coach Ted Nolan accused Crosby of the same thing.

The Penguins play the Islanders tonight at Nassau Coliseum.

Although criticism of Crosby is nothing new, it still surprised teammate Mark Recchi that it came from Murray.

"Obviously, we know Sid's a top player in this league, and he's going to be a focal point, but when people keep attacking the person, it doesn't make any sense to me at all," Recchi said. "Especially when it's a person like Bryan Murray, who's been around a long time and should know better than that. It's pretty sad when stuff like that happens.

"I know Bryan. He's a nice man. I don't know why he would even start something like that."

One theory, of course, is that it's almost time for the playoffs, and for the last month the Penguins and Senators have been lined up to play each other in the first round.

The Penguins, who occupy fifth place in the Eastern Conference, and the Senators, who are in fourth, play one more time before the regular season ends. The April 5 game in Ottawa could determine home-ice advantage.

"People are always trying to get an edge," Recchi said. "Up in Canada, everything's a focal point and, for whatever reason, things get blown out of proportion."

Penguins coach Michel Therrien defended Crosby, saying Murray yelled at Crosby.

"I'm sure we're going to have enough time to talk about Bryan Murray in the next week or so," Therrien said. "I'm never going to appreciate a coach talking to one of my players. Let the players get emotionally involved in a game. Coaches have to coach. When I see a coach trying to get involved emotionally with one of my players, I'm going to step up. ... Let the players play. Let the coaches coach."

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