Molinari on the Penguins: Cease & De-Kid Sidney Crosby
No, Sidney Crosby can't make a puck hang in midair. It only seems that way last week in the Penguins' game vs. Tampa Bay at Mellon Arena.
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He is 22 years old, but generally comports himself with more maturity than many twice his age.
His earnings will reach seven or eight figures every year for the next decade or so.
He is regarded by many as the best in the world at what he does.
In light of all that, isn't it time for some members of the press and public to identify Sidney Crosby as something other than "Sid the Kid?"
Sure, it rhymes -- perhaps Crosby is lucky that someone didn't decide long ago to label him "Sid the Squid" -- and it might have been cute if a first-grader had called him that. Once.
Trouble is, Crosby not only is a full-fledged adult, but the face of a multinational industry.
Oh, there might be times when critics are justified in calling his maturity into question, like when he's yapping at opponents or protesting an official's decision. It should not be forgotten, however, that Ron Francis -- one of the classiest and most respected players in recent NHL history, if not of all time -- protested every last second of the 979 penalty minutes he was assessed.
But it's not the many Crosby-bashers who perpetuate the "Kid" nickname. They have their own names for him, the most popular being a slur so juvenile and trite that even the aforementioned first-grader would be embarrassed about taking credit for it.
There probably is nothing Crosby can do to change how those people identify him. If, however, the people who like, or even are neutral about, him believe he has to have a nickname, Crosby deserves one rooted in his stature in the game rather than a bit of tired word play.
The Penguins' roster includes players who have scored three of the past six Stanley-Cup winning goals.
Mike Rupp got it for New Jersey in 2003, and Ruslan Fedotenko for Tampa Bay 12 months later.
The most recent one, however, belongs to Max Talbot, who accounted for both Penguins goals in their 2-1 victory in Game 7 of the Cup final against Detroit in June.
That makes Talbot the latest member of a most exclusive club, etching an entry on his resume that the storied likes of Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Phil Esposito, Bryan Trottier, Joe Sakic and Jaromir Jagr, among others, cannot claim.
That slice of professional immortality isn't something he dwells on, however.
"Those are things you don't think about," Talbot said. "You try to move on."
That's pretty much his attitude about winning the championship, too.
"As soon as it happened, you enjoy it for a little bit," he said. "But, as soon as we raised the banner, I'm like, 'I still need to prove myself.' I hope fans don't expect me to score two goals every night now, you know?"
Talbot's season, of course, won't really begin for another month or so. He's recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and said he expects to be out until at least late November.
Although he's not the kind of guy who thinks of hockey as a spectator sport -- not when his team's playing, anyway -- Talbot acknowledged that the Penguins' strong play through the first three-plus weeks of this season makes it easier for him to accept spending game nights in street clothes.
"It's really tough, but when the team's doing well, it helps," he said. "It gives you more time and you want to get well. If we (had a losing record), I'd want to be on the ice every night.
"But, when the team's playing like it is, you're happy for them. You want to come back, but you know that you can make sure it's 100 percent when you come back."
Mike Rupp entered this season, his first with the Penguins, with pretty high hopes for the team.
He wasn't nearly as optimistic about how things would go for his football team of choice, Cleveland, but neither did he anticipate the Browns stumbling to a 1-5 record six weeks into the season.
Rupp has a theory that offers at least a partial explanation for why Cleveland is going through such tough times -- is there a fan of any struggling team, in any sport who doesn't have strong convictions about what's causing its problems? -- and it focuses on moves the Browns have made to remove receivers like Braylon Edwards from their roster.
"You have a quarterback (Brady Quinn) who's supposed to be the franchise guy, and between last year and this year, (they made) a couple of trades that kind of depleted the guys who are his options to throw to," Rupp said.
"It kind of makes it tough on him to break into the league when he doesn't have so many weapons."
First Published October 25, 2009 12:00 am