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Gorman: Crosby deserves better than 'shake snub'

Kevin Gorman
| Friday, Sept. 18, 2009

Sidney Crosby is as criticized in the hockey world as he is celebrated. What's ridiculous is that the Penguins superstar is still being criticized for the way he celebrated winning the Stanley Cup.

Seems the defending champion Detroit Red Wings didn't like waiting at center ice for the 22-year-old captain to take part in the traditional handshake after Game 7 of the Cup Final at Joe Louis Arena.

What Crosby did pales in comparison to the bizarre behavior of tennis star Serena Williams and hip-hop artist Kanye West this past week. Williams threatened a line judge at the U.S. Open, and West interrupted the acceptance speech of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Crosby was late getting to the handshake line. That requires no apology. Nor is Crosby offering one.

"I think if you look at Serena Williams, she'll take full responsibility for what she did. She probably did something she regrets. Kanye West ... did something he regrets," Crosby said. "When you're talking about the handshake, I did absolutely nothing wrong there."

No argument here.

Instead of capitalizing this summer on the success of its most recognizable star and the youngest captain ever to win the Cup, the NHL's image suffered another black eye. Chicago star Patrick Kane was arrested for assaulting a cab driver. The league's cable carrier, Versus, was taken off DirecTV. The Phoenix Coyotes are in bankruptcy court. And the NHL Players Association fired its executive director amid speculation of another lockout in two years.

Yet, we're still hearing about Sid's "shake snub."

"Everyone has adversity and has to deal with it," Crosby said. "Because you're held to a higher standard doesn't mean you're never going to face adversity."

Red Wings veteran Kris Draper started the stir when he skated off the ice, then blasted Crosby afterward for disgracing Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom.

"Nick was waiting and waiting, and Crosby didn't come over to shake his hand," Draper said. "That's ridiculous, especially as their captain, and make sure you write that I said that!"

Good thing Winnipeg didn't ask Draper before trading him to Detroit in 1993. The Jets would have netted a return of 98 cents

"I think Kris Draper needs to get a life, honestly," Penguins winger Craig Adams said. "I don't know why he can't understand that it was a mistake and not something intentional. The people who know Sid know he'd never do that intentionally."

Yet, three months later, other Wings are still ripping Crosby. Last month, Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski griped to Sports Illustrated, "Last year, we didn't make them wait." Maybe that's because the Penguins allowed the Red Wings to celebrate their Cup win at Mellon Arena before lining up.

"It doesn't affect the outcome. We still won. We're Cup champs, so it's in one ear, out the other," Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton said. "It's unfortunate that they keep bringing it back up."

What's unfortunate is that Crosby didn't create this stir, but he's the one who has to answer for it. Crosby enters his fifth season as not only the face of but the top spokesman for the NHL, a league trying to resurrect its image. It's a burden he never bemoans - even when his life under the microscope focuses more on the minutiae - despite the fact he's the same age as recent college graduates.

That's not to suggest that the image-conscious Crosby hasn't been affected by the negative publicity. Polished as Crosby is, he's far from a finished product.

"For me, personally, I try to learn through lessons along the way," Crosby said. "I've lost some big games that have hurt, but I've also won some big ones and have had success. You learn how to deal with both."

The kid in Sid hopes to make a habit of having more success than adversity.

Either way, Captain Crosby has proven he is ready to handle it.

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