PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – I watched it just like you did. I saw it happen and I guess I should have cringed, but I didn’t. I have come to expect stuff like this from this NHL.
Just like you, I watched Sidney Crosby use P.K. Subban’s head like a basketball. He bounced it and bounced it. And then bounced it some more.
Wham, off the ice.
Wham, off the ice — repeat a few more times.
Man, that had to hurt, even with a helmet on.
But I’m perplexed as to the events in the first period behind the net as Crosby, one of the biggest stars the game has ever known, became entangled with Subban — a man equal parts talent and pest.
Some say Subban had it coming. Some say Sid is a whiny, crybaby.
Some say it’s just playoff hockey and in the spirit of what happens in the NHL this time of year.
Me? I say it’s nonsense. But, you know what — it’s the atmosphere the NHL has forced in a have-your-back-because-the-league-won’t situation that forced Sid’s hand.
In a way, good for Sid for what he did, I say. It’s just a shame for Subban, but someone had it coming to them after years and years (and a few more years) of the NHL not doing enough to protect Crosby.
It felt like, to me at least, Sid finally said, “to hell with this, I’m sick and tired of it all” and had a moment where he snapped. It didn’t feel so much like it was personal against Subban, but — again in my opinion — felt more like the letting loose of years of frustration with pests of Subban’s ilk and the NHL’s awful justice system with each whack off the ice Crosby used Subban’s head for.
Sid and Subban got matching minors for the dustup, which further made the NHL’s officiating laughable as there was a lot more there. I don’t exactly what should have been called, but it seemed like there was a lot more there than a few holding calls.
“I saw my guy get his head crosschecked into the ice 10 times,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “I don’t even know what he did, P.K., I disagree with the call.”
Crosby explained it away as Subban, “…was doing some UFC move on my foot there and I don’t know what he was trying to do.”
So Sid took to vigilante justice. Part of me as I watch the play on numerous replays wanted to be appalled by it. I wanted to cringe and look away and say, “Dear God, Sid, what in the heck are you doing?”
But then I took a step back and a deep breath and assessed it further.
Can you blame Crosby for his actions?
How long was he supposed to take it? How many years, how many times, was he supposed to be made to try to be the posterboy for this grand game, all the while being regularly assaulted on the ice and just asked to skate away?
I don’t know if P.K. Subban got what he deserved behind that net on Thursday night. What I do know is this: The NHL got exactly what they created.
They let people beat the hell out of Sidney Crosby for years — at some point he was going to get tired of it.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.