Mark Madden: Thanks, Sidney Crosby, for doing it right way
Sidney Crosby won the NHL All-Star Game(s) MVP on Saturday at San Jose, compiling four goals and four assists as his Metropolitan Division team won two straight games and the championship of the 3-on-3 tournament.
This is noteworthy for two reasons:
• All-Star Game(s) MVP was one of the few honors Crosby hadn’t won.
• Crosby somehow got MVP without aid of a camera crew, dance routine and/or endless parade of selfies.
Crosby’s MVP provided Pittsburgh with a needed feel-good moment. It’s a lifeline that pulled local sports fans (however briefly) from the quicksand of the ongoing Antonio Brown spectacle.
In 14 seasons, Crosby has never made us cringe.
In nine seasons, that has become Brown’s specialty.
Players like Brown don’t win. His rings are store-bought valentines to himself. Brown is the G.O.A.T. as proclaimed by himself, and at $20,000 a pop.
Crosby never stops winning: Three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, one World Cup of Hockey gold, and a fistful of individual awards directly connected to winning. “Most valuable” doesn’t often come sans championship.
While Brown and countless others push their “brand,” Crosby just plays hockey. He puts the team and his job first.
Crosby isn’t above reaping the rewards of his fame via endorsements.
But Crosby isn’t on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. JuJu Smith-Schuster might lapse into a coma if denied his constant self-promotion via social media. Where else would Brown “like” those who insult Ben Roethlisberger?
Crosby once had an anonymous Twitter account where he could observe what others said. But he got so mad at something tweeted by a Pittsburgh media member (not me), he got off Twitter and never returned.
That’s perhaps a bit sensitive. But it’s better than Brown using social media to physically threaten a writer.
Comparing Crosby to Brown isn’t just picking low-hanging fruit. It’s gathering fruit that already fell off the tree.
But it’s refreshing to enjoy Crosby’s accomplishment juxtaposed with Brown’s toxicity. The former does it right. The latter does it wrong.
Crosby’s MVP seems a good jumping-off point for the Penguins’ return to NHL action. Before Monday night’s game against visiting New Jersey, the Penguins hadn’t played in eight days or had a home game in almost three weeks.
A few variables loom for the Penguins:
• Can Evgeni Malkin regroup? He’s minus-19, a career worst by far. He’s got just three even-strength goals since October.
• Can Derick Brassard register a pulse, or must the Penguins revisit the third-line center spot before the Feb. 25 trade deadline (or play Phil Kessel on Malkin’s line, not the third line)?
• Can the Penguins stop allowing short-handed goals? They’ve conceded 10, most in the NHL.
• Jack Johnson was on the ice for 12 of the 23 goals allowed during the Penguins’ five-game road trip. Johnson had stabilized since Marcus Pettersson was acquired from Anaheim on Dec. 3 and made Johnson’s partner. But if Johnson is back to his early-season struggles, general manager Jim Rutherford may have to tweak his defense corps.
• Speaking of which, who will Justin Schultz pair with upon his return from injury? Olli Maatta has been a good fit for Schultz but would bring legit value in return if traded.
My worry is Rutherford and coach Mike Sullivan wrongly believe that Riley Sheahan can be the third-line center, or that Jusso Riikola can be a top-four defenseman, and the wrong trades get made based on those erroneous judgments.
But one constant is Crosby. If healthy and performing at his usual level, he gives the Penguins a chance.
Crosby also provides style and class.
After he won the All-Star Game MVP, Crosby was asked if he’s still the best player in hockey.
He replied, “I’m happy to be in the conversation still. As long as I’m in that conversation, it means I’m doing something right.”
Brown would have pounded his chest and yelled, “Connor Mc-who?” over and over.
Crosby is 31, Brown 30. But the difference in maturity is staggering.
Crosby’s All-Star Game(s) MVP gave us respite from Brown’s nonstop barrage of tomfoolery, and the dull thud of PirateFest. Thanks, Sid.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM 105.9.