Penguins Notebook: Crosby gives his side of Murray spat
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UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Sidney Crosby admitted yesterday that he had words with Ottawa coach Bryan Murray late in the first period of the Penguins' 4-3 shootout victory Sunday at Mellon Arena.
And that a few of them might have been a bit coarse, for that matter, although Crosby can't recall precisely how he phrased his thoughts.
"I'm sure I use the odd swear word when I'm on the ice," he said. "I'm not going to sit here and say that I don't. I'm not an angel."
But Crosby flatly rejected the suggestion that he did anything other than respond to a verbal assault by Murray, who accused him of embellishing an interference infraction by Senators center Mike Comrie.
"There is absolutely nothing for me to gain by yelling at another team's coach," Crosby said yesterday after a practice in Rye, N.Y. "You can ask other coaches. I don't yell at coaches unless I'm being yelled at by the coach."
Sunday, Crosby said, he was having words with players on the Ottawa bench when Murray got involved.
"What happened was, one of their players had yelled something at me," Crosby said. "I don't know which guy. They were yelling at me from the bench, so I was yelling stuff back at them."
At that point, Crosby said, Murray struck a pose with his arms folded across his chest and spoke to him -- Crosby said he couldn't make out Murray's words because of crowd noise and the usual tumult on the ice -- which prompted Crosby to respond, "Why are you talking to me?"
Penguins coach Michel Therrien got involved then, Crosby said, and began what became an animated exchange with Murray that carried over into the first intermission.
Crosby said that incident was "not the first time" Murray has spoken to him during a game, and that "there was absolutely no reason for him to be yelling at me," echoing a point Therrien made after the game Sunday.
"If he wants to say that I'm disrespectful to him -- if he feels he wants to do that -- that's fine," Crosby said. "It's not right, but, if he wants to do that, so be it.
"I didn't speak to him until he started making gestures. But what I was saying was, 'Why are you looking at me?' There was absolutely no reason for him to be yelling at me."
Big Smyth fans
The New York Islanders, whom the Penguins will face tonight at Nassau Coliseum, were looking to lock up a playoff spot -- and perhaps a shot at much more -- when they acquired winger Ryan Smyth from Edmonton at the NHL trade deadline.
It hasn't worked out that way so far -- New York is 1-4-2 in its past seven games -- but Smyth has four goals and seven assists in nine games since joining the Islanders.
"There's no doubt in our mind that he upgraded that hockey team," Therrien said.
Penguins right winger Georges Laraque was Smyth's longtime teammate with the Oilers and is convinced he can be a difference-maker on Long Island.
"Ryan Smyth is a game-breaker," Laraque said. "He's a warrior. On any team, he's a huge asset. He automatically made the Islanders a better team because he's a leader.
"The way he plays the game, if everybody follows his example and his work ethic, they're going to be OK."
Thibault hit again
Penguins goalie Jocelyn Thibault was struck in the throat by a Colby Armstrong shot in practice yesterday, the second time this week a puck launched by a teammate hit him there. Thibault was shaken up for a minute or two but finished the session.
"It's fine," he said later. "It just happens."
Both shots -- defenseman Mark Eaton got him during the game-day skate Monday -- might have been stopped if Thibault wore a throat protector like the one Marc-Andre Fleury uses, but he discarded one after experimenting with it in the past.
"I probably could get used to it again, but it would take me a couple of weeks [of wearing it] in practice," Thibault said. "It just annoys me."
Islanders coach Ted Nolan demoted captain Alexei Yashin to the fourth line after he blew an assignment that led to directly to a goal in New York's 4-3 overtime loss Tuesday in Tampa. ... First Sgt. J.B. Spisso, the Greensburg Central Catholic High School graduate and longtime Penguins fan who oversaw the team's activities during their visit to the U.S. Military Academy last fall, visited the team before its workout yesterday and left a motivational message on a locker-room chalkboard.
First Published March 22, 2007 12:00 am