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The Crosby Beat
By Mike Haggett
Published October 18, 2005

 

Crosby, Crosby, and more Crosby. Is the media making this kid out to be the next Savior or what? No question Sidney Crosby is a great talent for his age. Having seen Sidney play six times in the past two years at my local Q arena, there is no question that the kid has the tools and sense to be a tremendous player to watch for years to come. Sure, I heard all the analogies of who this kid reminds people of, dubbing Sidney as “The Next One” and all of that. Can we let the kid play for a few seasons and see what happens before we start passing judgment?

There is no doubt that Sidney is going to have a great running start with the team that Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick has assembled. Names like John LeClair, Mark Recchi, Ziggy Palffy, and team owner Mario Lemieux. If playing with “Le Magnifique” was not good enough, Crosby lives with him to boot.

To give Sidney all the credit in the world, he is a very polished young lad that takes all the media hype in stride. In a way that is good, because the expectations on the future of this kid are already through the roof. Nevertheless, the overkill of attention on this kid is getting ridiculous.

The Toronto Globe and Mail staff writer Shawna Richer was assigned full time to more or less stalk Sidney for the next seven months. In her online column called “The Rookie”, I have found it to be quite comical how such insignificant things that people do in their everyday lives all of a sudden becomes “newsworthy” when it involves Crosby. For example, let us look at some headlines and content:      

Breakfast with Sidney and Mario

Wednesday, October 5th

And no one noticed the man who has sent the hockey world into a frenzy. Sidney ate his first NHL road breakfast - - an omelette, orange juice, yogurt and a bottled water - - with second year forward Ryan Malone in peace.”

If that isn’t what you live for getting up in the morning to read, check this out:

Shower Sandals? So Yesterday

Wednesday, October 12th

The Pittsburgh Penguins were sporting brand new Crocs after practice. Not just for gardening or the beach anymore, these brightly coloured, plastic, vented, slip-on clogs have made what might be their first NHL dressing room appearance.

Penguins' equipment manager Steve Latin has been wearing them since the first day of training camp. He loves them so much he ordered a giant carton for the players. Most picked a pair in either bright yellow or black - - Sid's got a yellow pair - - but outgoing, French Canadian forward Maxime Talbot sported a hot pink pair yesterday.”

Totally riveting journalism. I don’t know how I can sit down with my morning cup of Tim Horton’s coffee without reading about Sid’s breakfast or what silly shoes the players are wearing in the locker room. With all due respect to Shawna, who is probably a great writer and just doing her assignment, but this is pathetically painful.

Why is the media consumed with his off-ice life? I mean, when Sid gets a girlfriend, is the reporting going to be like this?

“Sidney arrived at morning skate this morning, hand in hand with his new girlfriend. Before he entered the Penguins’ dressing room, she gazed into his eyes and combed his curly dark hair with her fingers before planting a big kiss on his lips while giving him a strong embrace. He then winked at her as he disappeared into the locker room, leaving her outside, with the expression of love for The Next One written all over her face.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t want to read that kind of thing, and I wish that the media would give him respect and just allow him to live. Sidney is going to have a long life if that is not the case, and may wonder at times that his incredible gift of hockey prowess is more of a curse than what it is worth. This moronic literature didn’t happen when The Great One came into the league in 1978, nor did it when Le Magnifique came into the league in 1985.

For God sakes, let the kid live his life, and report on what he does where it matters the most: ON the ice. That is where the story is, and that is where the story will be for many years to come.

WHAT WAS OLD IS NEW AGAIN

Back in September, the NHL inked a deal with XM Satellite Radio and its Canadian Satellite Radio subsidiary to carry over 1,000 NHL games for ten years beginning with this season. The NHL also has a partnership with SIRUS Satellite Radio, which will expire at the end of the 2006-07 season, as the deal with XM will become exclusive. The deal with XM / CSR will also include an exclusive 24 hour / 7 day per week all hockey discussion channel in the near future, very similar to what XM already has established with Major League Baseball.

Talk about taking a trip back to yesteryear. I remember growing up as a kid listening to hockey games on the radio, listening to such greats as Boston Bruins legendary voice Bob Wilson, as well as current OLN / New Jersey Devils TV play-by-play man Mike Emrick when he first broke into hockey with the AHL’s Maine Mariners. On a good clear night, picking up other broadcasts from New York, Philadelphia or Montreal wasn’t out of the realm of possibility, despite the fact that the far away signals would fade in an out.

There was something special about that, whether I was doing homework or just lying in bed, to be able to listen to the sport I loved. Hearing the announcers call the playing heroes of the day, working their way in and out of traffic in the slot, a pass out to the blue line with a big blast to the net, or the city scrappers taking situations into their own hands with a player who violated an unwritten rule of conduct. That is where my love of hockey began, and to be able to hear it again, in a much clearer format mind you, has really rekindled the spirit again.

Whether you are a Flyers fan in Vancouver, or a Habs fan in Florida, because of satellite radio, the digital quality sound comes through as if the game is going on just down the street. The action of the play, the noise of the crowd is all right there. Unlike satellite or cable television, one can listen to their heroes of today as they are driving down a snowy road, and it is even as versatile to be able to listen while shovelling the driveway.

With the NHL now just getting back on its feet, some markets have lost radio coverage due to lack of financial feasibility. Many teams have lost the number of broadcasting affiliates as a result. For $12.95 a month plus the cost of a receiver, what was lost can be back again. Much cheaper than NHL Center Ice through satellite or cable TV, many of an NHL fan will enjoy this wonderful service, and take a trip back to yesteryear and enjoy it as much as I have.

OFF THE POST

Just glancing at attendance figures for the first few games, attendance seems to be encouraging out of the gate. Although it is too early to tell, the markets that do traditionally well are doing just that. The eye opener for me so far is Tampa Bay, whose fans aren’t showing to be fair weather as of yet, as their first four home games over 83,000 have gone through the turnstiles or 105.1 percent of capacity… The new NHL rules seem to be a hit with the fans in a Decima Research poll conducted in Canada. 600 of 1500 respondents who classified themselves as typical fans of the game, 67 percent of them say the new rules make the game more exciting and 81 percent said the new guidelines have piqued their curiosity. This could be the big reason why attendance has been strong out of the gate… The Nashville Predators and the Ottawa Senators are the only two unbeaten clubs left (as of press time) in this early season. Knowing how well the Senators are built this season, that streak could go on for a while. The Predators will be my upset special for the year, as GM David Poile and Coach Barry Trotz appear to have hit onto something…. Brett Hull’s retirement comes a bit of a shock as the Coyotes just unretired his father Bobby’s #9 from Winnipeg, just to turn around and now re-retire it again.

 What is your view? Contact Mike at psmaineiac@yahoo.com

 

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