Penguins' Sidney Crosby weighs in on NHL's slashing crackdown
For a number of reasons, Sidney Crosby is uniquely qualified to comment on the NHL's crackdown on slashing violations in the preseason.
As the league's premier player for a decade, a player who thrives with the puck on his stick, he's been the target of countless slashes in an attempt to disrupt his game.
He was also on the other end of the league's most high-profile slashing incident of last season when he accidentally mangled the tip of former Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot's pinkie finger with his stick in March.
In general, Crosby supports the initiative.
“I think they're trying to crack down on guys going after each other's hands out there,” Crosby said. “I think it's good to crack down on that.”
Crosby's lone reservation was that the crackdown would also catch legitimate stick-checking in its net.
“It's a fine line (when) you're going to lift a guy's stick or play a guy's stick,” Crosby said. “I think there's a difference between trying to play a guy and deliberately going at his hands.”
There's no fine line when it comes to the most memorable slashes Crosby has received over the past few seasons.
In Game 4 of a 2016 playoff series, Crosby took a whack from Washington's Alex Ovechkin on the left hand and swung his stick angrily with his right as he made his way down the tunnel to the locker room for medical treatment.
In Game 3 of last year's playoff meeting with the Capitals, Crosby took a two-hander from Ovechkin in the shoulder seconds before Matt Niskanen delivered a concussion-causing cross-check to his head.
Those are major incidents that are covered with exclamation points and capital letters. This season's crackdown is more targeted toward subtle violations.
“I think they're trying to get the ones with a D man carrying the puck up the ice or somebody carrying the puck through the neutral zone, kind of those unnecessary ones that don't have a bearing on the play but are still penalties,” Crosby said. “I think it's a good thing. We'll have to see to what extent they're called as the season goes on.”
Crosby pointed out Saturday that he wasn't called for a penalty on the play that did damage to Methot's finger. Under the crackdown, he likely would have been.
“Unfortunately, the odd time it does happen,” Crosby said. “I could see why they would want to crack down and eliminate those ones for sure. But it happens a lot. It's something that, if it's deliberate and guys are going after the hands, they have to be (held) responsible. I think that's what they're trying to do.”
As for the NHL's other preseason crackdown, the one on faceoff violations, Crosby voiced his unequivocal support.
Officials are calling a minor penalty when the same team commits two violations on the same draw. The emphasis is on skate positioning.
“I like it,” Crosby said. “As players, we find a way to adjust. If you don't learn it quick, then you're not going to be taking many faceoffs.”
Crosby admitted his support for the faceoff crackdown might be tied to the way he takes draws. He rarely tries to use his skates to win them.
“When you use your foot a lot, you're obviously trying to cheat your foot forward,” Crosby said. “Guys that use their foot a little bit more probably aren't going to like it. I don't tend to use my foot a lot, so that's why I like it.”