Sid.

I guess in terms of Pittsburgh news unrelated to the “disruption of suspicious packages,” this would be categorized as “explosive.”

The Trib’s Dejan Kovacevic’s article today on Crosby includes:

  • Crosby is still experiencing dizziness and he doesn’t know why, or whether or not it is a symptom of the concussion or something else.
  • He wants to play, despite the growing flame of whispers that he doesn’t.
  • He loves us:

Loves the people, the city, the team and its fans. And he would dearly love to spend his whole career with the Penguins. I’m not guessing at this. I’ve heard it from his mouth again very recently.

  • And perhaps the most WHOA:

A few, certainly not all, of Crosby’s teammates are of the mind that he’s been symptom-free for a while, though they have no medical basis for that. Some think he should be playing. Some simply think he should be doing more to communicate, or at least be as visible as concussed defenseman Kris Letang.

Last week in Pittsburgh, according to three sources, a group of players held a 45-minute meeting to discuss a temporary captaincy. Another source disputed that any such meeting occurred.

Keep in mind that there is a lot of generalization happening in this article. “A few.” “Certainly not all.” “Some.” “Three sources.” “A group.” “Another source.”

Who are the three sources? A source who heard it from a source who heard it from a source? Good sources? Or a friend of a friend of a Pens locker room attendant? Knowing Dejan, though, which actually, I don’t know him, but I’m guessing he had pretty good sources before he would print this and risk alienating all of his Pens  sources and contacts in the future. [Update: From Dejan: “Not one of my sources was second-hand.”]

How many is a “few?” Two? Ten? How many are “some?” More than a few but less than all? How big was the group? A duo? A trio? A rock band? A choir?

What that means is this all needs to be taken with a grain of salt, so to speak.

However, my personal observation is that the tides have been turning against Crosby on Twitter for a week or so now.

“The Pens are bigger than Crosby,” I’ve seen tweeted and blogged by some who I’d never expect it from.

That’s true. The Pens ARE  bigger than Crosby, but in a way, he IS the Pens. He saved the Pens. That has to continue to count for something.

But that first whisper has grown now to a larger number of fans beginning to question Crosby’s absence as it relates to a true medical condition. That whisper then kept growing into a much larger, louder murmuring about whether or not the Pens should renew his contract in 2013. Formerly diehard fans of his and well-known Pens bloggers, are doing the numbers and seeing how Crosby’s salary could be spread around if he wasn’t re-signed. Barring that, he better take a hefty hometown pay-cut to stay a Penguin, they say.

That those murmurings have been also coming from his teammates, if Dejan has good sources, is shocking. Go back to HBO’s 24/7. Go back to the Stanley Cup. Go back, even, to Sid’s magical return against the Islanders. Go back to his 60+ games gone because of the original concussion. No fan or blogger that I saw was murmuring anywhere near loud enough to make any kind of noise. We just wanted him to get better.

But now his teammates question the jersey number of the C? What changes if the C is on Malkin, perhaps? Does Malkin suddenly become inspired to lead the team better than with the A? Does he give incredible pre-game speeches that result in more wins after he shouts, “MAKE MORE BIG SCORE GOALS! ))))))))”? Or is even talking about moving the C simply a middle finger to the Captain, My Captain who would wear it if he was healthy enough to take the ice? A captain, I remind you, who takes the wearing of the C so seriously that he originally turned it down in 2006 explaining:

“I just thought it wasn’t right for me. As a team, we were playing great and you don’t want to disrupt things like that. Individually, I was not ready to accept that responsibility quite yet.”

What changed since all of that?

I’ll tell you. LOSING. LOSING happened. Six games of losing. And like Big Bob said on twitter today, “Winning cures all.”

This conversation wouldn’t be happening if the Pens were winning. The loss after loss, not only of games, but of other important players to injuries, has taken a toll on some fans, and, it seems, some Pens, and they spun the Bottle of Blame and I guess it landed on Sid.

Be reminded of this article by Sean Conboy at Pittsburgh Magazine.

Read about what happened to Derek Boogaard when his concussions went unchecked.

Yes, the communication among Sid, the team, and fans could be better, but this desperate flailing that some fans and apparently, teammates, are doing is going to accomplish absolutely nothing but creating distraction and divisiveness. If you think a fractured fan base is bad, it’s nothing compared to a fractured team.

Dejan is right. Stop kicking Sid when he’s down because knowing Sid, when he finally does come back for good, God willing, he’s going to show us he was worth the wait. Just like he did against the Islanders.

We have won the Stanley Cup on Sid’s young shoulders; Now is not the time to pull our shoulders away from him.

 





36 Comments

  1. PensFan024
    January 13, 2012 1:22 pm

    In response to the article and as a show of support for their captain all of the Pens wore a “C” on their uniforms during the morning skate.



  2. Paul
    January 13, 2012 1:23 pm

    The losing is what’s fueling this. You are absolutely correct.

    I still get excited to watch them every gameday, more than the Steelers and more than the Pirates (of course). These last 6 games have been really difficult to watch, though. They just can’t put the puck in the net. They are winning faceoffs, getting their hits, and outshooting everybody. The puck just won’t go in the net.



  3. Sue
    January 13, 2012 1:24 pm

    Well said, Virginia! Also, great article on Derek Boogaard and the consequences of multiple concussions. Plenty to think about after reading that article.



  4. empirechick
    January 13, 2012 1:24 pm

    I don’t care if Sid sits out the entire season, if that’s what it takes for him to get back to (and stay) 100% healthy. He’s only 24, for crying out loud – he’s got plenty of scoring titles and a couple Stanley Cups left in him, assuming he is able to play a full career.

    We are so spoiled here: from Mario, to Jagr, and now Sid, we’ve had the best player in the game on our team for most of the past 25 years. I think Mario would have broken all of Gretzky’s records had he played a full career, and Sid might have a shot. Be patient, people.

    I agree 100% that the veil of secrecy he and the Pens try to use does nothing but cause people to jump to conclusions to fill the void. But shame on all of those so-called fans who are questioning his dedication – that is simply ludicrous.



  5. unsatisfied
    January 13, 2012 1:33 pm

    what you said, virginia.

    I have always found dejan to be very reputable in his reporting. so, I take what he is saying — unnamed sources and all — as gospel here.

    these pens fans — and pens players, apparently — should be ashamed of themselves.



  6. Cassie
    January 13, 2012 1:35 pm

    I agree with your post 100%. Sid has a precarious situation that Letang doesn’t have. If he even opens his mouth to say, “I feel great today,” or “Wow, I have a headache,” the whole sports world will come crashing down on him and perhaps misquote him saying, “He’s back!” or “He’s retiring!”

    I want him back. And I don’t care if that means he won’t be back until next season. Watching him on the ice is worth all the waiting. Knowing that he is healthy is worth all the losses. And honestly, our losses don’t surprise me. They look lost out there. And that can’t all be blamed on Crosby.



  7. Gina
    January 13, 2012 2:00 pm

    Two words come to mind when I hear people questioning the seriousness of Sid’s injury: Mike Webster. A wonderful, kind man, an amazing athlete, a Pittsburgh hero, who ended up broke, sick, homeless and suffering due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy.



  8. PA Girl in VA
    January 13, 2012 2:24 pm

    They all wore HOMEMADE “C”s on their jerseys, except for Malkin, who wore a “K” (for the Russian spelling).

    http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=611468&cmpid=pit-fb-pghpenguins



  9. MizzPenz
    January 13, 2012 2:29 pm

    I love how Sid was the only player on the ice WITHOUT a “C” Players talking to the media is a blessing for a reporter, but they must be careful not to disrupt the status quo. I would like to think that anyone that told Dejan that there was turmoil in the locker room was only frustrated by the losses – not at Sid.
    Let the kid have his time to work this out. How anyone could question his desire to play the game is beyond me.



  10. Virginia
    January 13, 2012 2:30 pm

    That’s all well and good, but what they’re doing in public and what they might say and do in private are two different things.

    Of course they’re going to put a united front out there now. Doesn’t mean the meeting never happened.

    Who can know? There’s definitely rumblings from the fan base.



  11. Tony
    January 13, 2012 2:41 pm

    As a Flyers fan who watched this sort of thing happen to Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau, and to a lesser extent guys like Eric Desjardins, Jeremy Roenick, and Ian Laperierre, I feel for you guys. The league is better off with Sidney Crosby playing, and this sucks not only for the fans and Crosby the hockey player, but also Crosby the human being.

    My totally unsolicited advice to you Pens fans (and to the front offie) is to reset your expectations, and focus on the guys that are on the ice instead of getting caught up in the drama over when/if Sid returns. He has shown a talent level that places his ceiling in the Gretzky/Lemieux range, but the idea that these concussions are a passing phase that he’ll just get over if he sits out long enough strains credibility.

    We don’t totally understand brain injuries, but we do know that you’re much more likely to have post-concussion symptoms in the future if you’ve had them in the past. Some guys just get their bell rung, miss a few games, come back, and everything’s fine. Other guys can’t shake the symptoms for weeks or months, and when they do come back, they’re just one average hit away from another IR stint.

    Giving someone else on the team the (C) doesn’t say that Crosby’s not still the heart and soul of the team when he comes back, it just says that the team comes first, and they need someone to be the leader right now. My guess is they won’t actually do this unless Sid’s future becomes even more uncertain, but as an impartial observer, I think they probably should.



  12. Paul
    January 13, 2012 2:48 pm

    @Virginia – I hear what you’re saying but they didn’t have to do the “C” thing. They (the players) could’ve just ignored the entire thing. They chose, however, to show support for Crosby. Symbolic or not, it still is a nice gesture.



  13. Lauren
    January 13, 2012 3:04 pm

    @Tony

    After years of dealing with Mario Lemieux and his health issues, I think we Pens fans know something about tempering expectations ;) Seriously though, I think we all just assumed that the “Sid-bot” was unbreakable. He was everything we could ever want in a star player and we had planned for decades of enjoyment watching him play. I think much of the fan frustration stems from the extremely scary thought that this is no longer the case…

    As for the rest of the team, I honestly don’t know what to think. Players-only meetings during 6 game losing streaks are par for the course. If they think the reason they are losing games is because Sid isn’t there, well, they were never going to do much even with him in the lineup. But too many of these players seem better than that. Bah.

    Hockey is frustrating this year. Extra frustrating. And this is from someone who knows who Rico Fata and Steve McKenna are…



  14. Butcher's Dog
    January 13, 2012 3:10 pm

    For a Flyers fan, Tony makes sense. There’s really no point in Sid or Bylsma or anyone else talking to the media daily, because how many different ways can you think of to say, “We don’t know.”? Unlike a broken bone or torn ligaments, you can’t x-ray or mri the concussion. And as has already been pointed out, far too many dead former athletes from this to risk pushing anyone. You really want to see Sid play so bad you’ll badmouth him on talk radio? Go play a damn video game. Everyone else just breathe.

    And the suggestions about trading him or making him take a big pay cut on the next contract mainly come from people who need to get out of their parents’ basement a bit more. As always, just sayin’.



  15. Christina
    January 13, 2012 3:16 pm

    This is a great day for Pittsburgh sports. A lot of good things were written and published. A lot of people heard the wake up call. The team stepped out – all with a C on the jersey to support Sid.

    It was more than necessary. This team can play and it can win, but it needs to be in the right state of mind and I think a day like today was necessary.

    As for Sid I go a step further. He carried a lot for us on his young shoulders and now instead of making it even more difficult for him, we should carry him on our shoulders.

    #C



  16. G-Man
    January 13, 2012 3:28 pm

    Tony – thanks for your contribution here today. I wish every Flyers fan conducted themselves the way you expressed your thoughts today. The impression we Pens fans get of Flyers fans is they all are hoping Sid is permanently damaged and that they hate him. You are a breath of fresh air.



  17. G-Man
    January 13, 2012 3:34 pm

    This could easily be an awful idea. But something I keep wondering about is whether there could be benefit in having Sid in street clothes and behind the bench during a game or two here or there. For morale and PR purposes. What fans don’t get a sense of is how much Sid is part of the team right now. I remember reading about other teams and them saying they do not want injured players practicing and hanging out with the team so as not to be a distraction. But this is Sidney Crosby, not some 4th liner. Just a thought. Discuss amongst yourselves.



  18. Tony
    January 13, 2012 3:36 pm

    @Lauren: Yeah, it sucks, and I really do feel for you guys. We watched it happen with Lindros, who came into the NHL with even more hype than Crosby did. You assume a guy is going to be the mainstay for years to come and then his body fails him… It’s tragic, and over time, I think you just have to look at the big picture and “root for the laundry” instead of becoming too attached to any particular player.



  19. Tony
    January 13, 2012 4:02 pm

    @G-Man: Thanks for the kind words. I moved to Pittsburgh in 2005, and it’s been pretty nice the last few years having my hometown team be pretty good at the same time as the team that plays here in my new home, after several decades of see-sawing between a good Flyers team and a dismal Pens team, and vice versa. Rivalries are no fun when one half is in the basement, and I was looking forward to booing Crosby for another decade at least. :)



  20. unsatisfied
    January 13, 2012 4:17 pm

    on a slight side note, since philly has been brought up — didn’t bobby clarke strip lindros of his captaincy after lindros claimed that the team trainers and doctors didn’t catch a concussion that he said he suffered?



  21. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    January 13, 2012 4:27 pm

    @G-Man — one of the most frustrating (and lingering) concussion symptoms is sensitivity to light, especially later in the day. I found that out after taking a line drive to the temple as a spectator at a college baseball game. There is so much we don’t know about brain injuries. Time will tell with Sid and I can wait for him to be back not only for the sake of his own health, but also for the team.



  22. Tony
    January 13, 2012 4:31 pm

    @unsatisfied: Yeah, though the relationship had soured long before that. Regardless of the merit of the accusations, you can’t have the captain of your team taking public shots at the staff, so it was probably the right move.



  23. bluzdude
    January 13, 2012 4:49 pm

    Something I learned in the office environment also applies to this situation… When there is no official word of what’s going on, people will generate their own information. The longer it’s talked about, the more it’s accepted as truth and the harder it is to stamp out.

    Obviously speculation is running wild because in this 24/7 news cycle, people expect a constant stream of updates. Unfortunately a situation like this is not so easily quantifiable, so there is often no point in providing the same status update. But that doesn’t stop the demand.

    I hope our Captain comes back soon, but not so soon as to jeopardize his career here. The Pens have won with him and won without him. They better get used to doing the latter.



  24. bucdaddy
    January 14, 2012 10:39 am

    A Flyers fan who makes sense? The fabric of my hockey universe has been rent asunder. ;-)

    Look, this team is pretty clearly good enough to make the playoffs (cripes, that applies to 15 other teams in the league too) without Sid, so what’s the rush? He needs what, 10 or so games at the end of the regular season to tune up and then hits the playoffs fresh.

    I kind of wonder why teams with a fragile star (like the Pens with Mario toward the end of his career) don’t adopt this as a strategy. “Look, kid, take the first five months of the season off, just show up playoff-ready in March. Well take care of the rest.”

    The 80-game season is a serious grind. Why wear him out now for no good reason? (Except to sell tickets, which was pretty clearly driving the whole Mario fiasco.)



  25. Butcher's Dog
    January 14, 2012 12:25 pm

    @bucdaddy: Mine, too (hockey universe rent asunder). Tony’s making it tough on all of us to hate Philly with the unbridled passion required by our Western PA roots (even if those roots got transplanted to West-by-God). Seriously, Tony, say something douchey so we can get our mojo back, please.

    Not sure I agree, though, about the “save ’em for the playoffs” strategy. First, it sends the message that the regular season doesn’t mean anything. In addition to that notion making it tough to sell over-priced tickets and TV advertising,there’s no guarantee of making the playoffs. Almost half the NHL teams don’t. Second, what does that say to the guys who grind it out for the 80 games, only to have a Golden Boy come riding in on the white horse for the “real” stuff? Ginny talked about the dangers of a fragmented team, and that would fragment things real quickly, I think.



  26. bucdaddy
    January 15, 2012 1:27 am

    B-Dawg,

    Do those guys want to win a Cup or not? Would they have a better chance at winning a Cup with a fresh Sid or with a Sid who has had the snot beaten out of him for 80 games?

    “It sends the message that the regular season doesn’t mean anything.”

    But … it doesn’t, much. The NBA is proving that right now. They’re going to end up with a, what is it, 64 game season? Let’s say it is. So if you can play a 64-game season and decide a champion every bit as legitimate as with an 82-game season, then what are they playing those other 18 games for? Absolutely meaningless.

    I’m not saying fringe teams should adopt this strategy. Obviously, fringe teams need every point they can get. I’m saying a team that’s pretty comfortably a playoff team already could possibly gain an advantage in the playoffs by having a fresh and reasonably rested star, rather than a star who has had hell beat out of him and is exhausted/concussed/whatever even BEFORE the playoffs start.

    Look, NFL teams kind of do that. If they have a playoff spot locked up before the last game of the season, you’re not going to see much of the starters. They recognize that they want their best players rested and as healthy as possible before the playoffs start. I’m just suggesting a reverse of the tactic: Rest the stars at the START of the season, rather than at the end.



  27. Butcher's Dog
    January 16, 2012 9:42 am

    @bucdaddy: Well, the Packers shot a hole in that “rest the stars” thing yesterday, I guess. NBA barely qualifies as a major sport, IMHO, let alone the template for reduced regular seasons. Think Major League Baseball…would you really want to reduce the number of opportunities you have to sit outside on a warm summer night nursing an overpriced warm beer so there could be a shorter regular season? What about all those young people constantly showed on Root Sports during the Good Buccos part of the season? Are we telling them and their families they’re watching meaningless exhibitions? I kind of like things the way they are. Plus, the Pens won a Cup with Sid playing most of a season (that was the year he had the high ankle sprain, I think). Overall, I’d rather see them play it out and the Last Man Standing raises the Cup. Or the silver football.



  28. bucdaddy
    January 16, 2012 11:26 am

    B-Dawg,

    Actually, I would. For one thing, they wouldn’t cut the games on the warm summer nights, they’d cut a few games in cold and wet April and they’d cut a few games at the end of September, and then the World Series would have a reasonable chance of ending before Thanksgiving.

    Believe it or not, I really would like to see ALL sports seasons get shorter — there’s no good reason for hockey games in June — but the long term trend is for the opposite and it’s all because that’s what TV wants. In my paper I sometimes run a little filler item called “Sportlight” which notes significant things that happened on that day. And a week ago (a week ago!) one of the items was about the Steelers beating the Vikings in the 1975 Super Bowl. Jeebus, I thought, they had the season over with then and this one still has a month to go.

    I was seriously disappointed over the weekend to learn that the NCAA planned to do something to shorten its seasons (yay!) but them punted to a committee (booo! But of course, that’s what bureaucracies always do) to determine just how long seasons should be.

    Just starting with basketball, I could have told them the season used to start around or after Thanksgiving and now (seriously) it starts around Halloween and that is TOO DAMN LONG. And I could have told them that football season used to end on Jan. 1 and now it doesn’t end until Jan. 9 and that is TOO DAMN LONG. There, there’s all the committee you need, NCAA.

    But TV has a vast 24/7 maw to fill and can pay huge amounts of money to fill it, and if TV says, “We want college basketball to start on Labor Day and college football to end on Valentine’s Day, and here’s a billion dollars to make it happen,” the NCAA isn’t in business to say, “But think of the children!” It’s in business to negotiate that up to a billion.5 and then jump as high as TV tells it to.

    It’s a hopeless cause and I know it, is what I’m saying. Doesn’t make it any less frustrating.



  29. Butcher's Dog
    January 16, 2012 12:13 pm

    Look up “bucdaddy” in your dictionary and there’s this definition: A Committee of One. (lol!!!)

    Yeah…Maz’s homer was, what?, Oct. 13? In the daytime. At 3:36, I believe, of a game that started at 1:00, saw 19 runs score, had an injury (Kubek’s throat), and a metric shitload of pitching changes in keeping with the last game of the year. And I don’t remember any of the posturing by athletes back then. They get paid ‘way more nowadays, but they aren’t better off. Neither are we, the fans. Just my two cents worth.



  30. bucdaddy
    January 16, 2012 12:45 pm

    B-Dawg,

    I have the DVD (well, it’s out on loan to somebody, I don’t quite recall who) of Game 7, and one of the first things I noticed after two or three innings is that the batters almost never stepped out of the box. I’ve thought of several reasons for that. One, TV was still in its infancy, and players hadn’t yet learned to preen for the cameras and drag every at-bat out for 10 minutes. Two, most or none of them were wearing gloves, which gave them two fewer things to fiddle with. Three, they knew if they pissed around and fooled around and tried all that disrupting-the-pitcher’s-timing stuff, there were plenty of pitchers at the time and many more (Drysdale, Gibson) soon to come who would have stuck the next pitch up their ass. They’re not allowed to headhunt much anymore, to the game’s detriment, IMO.

    Who was it used to be known as the Human Rain Delay? Anyway, EVERY damn batter now is a Human Rain Delay. And no one is really interested in shortening the games because TV doesn’t want them shorter, I’m convinced. If the games today ran 2 1/2 hours instead of the usual 3 1/2, well, that’s another hour TV has to find something to fill that’s almost inevitably more expensive to produce than a ballgame. I’m pretty certain TV would like all ballgames to last eight hours.



  31. Butcher's Dog
    January 16, 2012 4:01 pm

    As I recall the Human Rain Delay was Mike somebody who played primarily for the Indians. Mike Hargrove, I think. Pain in the ass. I agree about the headhunting. That would have been the primary factor in not stepping out every time. Those old batting helmets weren’t much good. TV inning breaks weren’t as long, either, back then.

    I’m not sure anyone would really watch an 8-hour game, but no one’s pushing for games to be shorter. Except football; they like that three-hour limit, which is why the clock now runs when someone goes out of bounds except in the last two minutes.



  32. bucdaddy
    January 16, 2012 10:52 pm

    Three-hour limit? What three-hour limit?

    I was astonished when the second Steelers-Bengals game this year came in at about 2:50. That was by far the shortest televised football game (pro or college) I can remember recently in my admittedly fading memory.

    I don’t think TV really cares whether anybody would watch an eight-hour game. TV routinely airs football and basketball games that couldn’t possibly be of interest to more than a relative handful of viewers nationwide.

    Here’s a list of games that were on Saturday:

    11 a.m. UConn at Notre Dame
    noon Kentucky at Tennessee
    1 p.m. Texas at Missouri
    2 p.m. North Carolina at Florida State
    2 p.m. UAB at Southern Miss
    3 p.m. Oklahoma State at Baylor
    3:30 p.m. Oregon at Arizona
    4 p.m. Colorado at Stanford
    4 p.m. UNLV at San Diego State
    (women)
    noon Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

    The fact they put women’s games on at ALL, much less nine men’s games in the span of seven hours, tells me TV cares about filling airtime and cashing advertiser checks. Really, who is watching UAB vs. Southern Miss.?

    And BTW, that’s a very light Saturday schedule. Usually there are, like, a dozen or more (football or basketball) games on and they all overlap from noon-midnight.



  33. Butcher's Dog
    January 17, 2012 7:36 am

    @bucdaddy: “who is watching UAB vs. Southern Miss.?” Well, gamblers for one. College kids sitting in dorm/fraternity house rooms with a case of cheap beer, for another. You may be one of the few among us (“us” meaning Ginny’s Minions) who remembers the early days of ESPN. Only one channel, and to fill time we saw European soccer games and the like. On tape. Aussie Rules football. CFL games eventually. And when people asked “how can they possibly fill all that time?”, we got the answer. Throw enough money at ’em so they schedule more stuff for us to show.



  34. bucdaddy
    January 17, 2012 11:07 am

    Note above I said “relative handful.” That should cover the gamblers/college kids etc. But you also have to account for the fact there are four other games on at the same time to siphon off the interests of some of those parties. Now what are you left with?

    That’s actually not a terrible slate of games. I was thinking more along the lines of when ESPN (and yes, I do remember those days) puts on something like the Division III championship, Faber vs. NOrthwesteastsouthern State or something. I’d say they’re airing a game like that for the 5,000 people who might even remotely be interested just to be good guys ‘n at, except television does absolutely nothing if it isn’t for money. So there must be another reason …



  35. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    January 18, 2012 5:39 pm

    I learned to love Aussie Rules football solely due to ESPN. I loved how they just run out and throw the injured player on a cot while the game goes on around them.