Sidney Crosby; long known as the most talented player in the league since The Great One, has been coming under fire recently for his actions and his words. With his team down 2-0 in their first round matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers, Crosby instigated several fights and was widely regarded as playing, according to Barry Melrose as “A petulant, snot nosed, dingleberry”(Citation needed) Partly because of his actions the Penguins would go on to lose game 3 and are now in desperation mode.
Not wanting to let the media kill his proverbial golden goose I got a call from Mario Lemieux requesting an interview between me and his troubled star. It was according to Super Mario a way to let the people of Philadelphia know that while this is playoff hockey and tempers will rise, that it is just a hockey game and there were no real hard feelings. According to Lemieux with my penchant for snagging high profile interviews and my near constant bomb threats I was the perfect combination of tough but brutally unfair, much like the crowd at the Wachovia Center.
I arrived at Dave and Busters a little before 7:00 pm, just in time for all the cool people to come for the Eat and Play Combos. I was greeted at the door by Steve Marshall who despite the boringness of his name had become the head of Public Relations for the Penguins.
“Hello Mr. Kaplan. Thank you for coming, but uh, because of your recent phone calls to the Consol Energy Center we’ll need to pat you down.” A large man pushed me up against the wall and proceeded to do a quick frisk of my person. I smiled, knowing it was a good idea to have left my shank in the car.
After the full body search Steve led me down the brightly lit halls and through the throngs of kids towards a back room where Mr. Lemieux was waiting for us. Before departing Steve leaned in and whispered “Whatever you do, when you’re dealing with Crosby always make sure you face him directly.” Before I had time to respond he closed the door and I was alone with the President of the Penguins.
Mario Lemieux stood before me in a well tailored Italian suit. His hair was slicked back and his shoes were shined perfectly. He would have been looking regal if there weren’t several dozen kernels of popcorn stuck to, well all over him. He greeted me cordially as he continued to dust himself off and we exchanged some routine pleasantries.
“Been a great series right? Lots of goals, lots of fights, just good old fashioned playoff hockey, amiright?”
“Yea it’s been incredibly exciting. Especially with all the comebacks and late game heroics.”
Lemieux glared at me subtly and with a quick shake of his head, which scattered some more pieces of popcorn, regained his composure. “So how have you enjoyed watching my former line mate?”
“Oh my God. Jagr has been a revelation. Who knew he still had so much left in the tank. Funny for the longest time it seemed like he would be returning to the Penguins. I couldn’t believe he turned you down.”
“Yes, well he said that the Flyers were just a better fit for him, professionally and personally.”
“Really, but you guys just won a cup a few years back, how was coming to Philadelphia a better decision?”
“Anyway, we’re glad you were able to make. As you know poor Sidney has been catching a lot of flak recently and we’re just trying to smooth it all over.”
“Yea where is he?”
“He’s out in the game room somewhere. You know him always playing games. Let’s go get him and then we can sit down to dinner.”
We wandered out into the maze of skee ball hedges and Dance, Dance Revolution weirdo’s. Mario eventually spotted him at the game where you shoot water onto the target to make your horse go. Sidney was standing in the middle aisle, spraying an 8 year old in the face with his water cannon. After finishing out of the top 3 he let out a loud shriek. Lemieux ran up alongside his protégé and rubbed his back. After talking for several minutes which included some foot stomping and finger pointing Lemieux eventually slipped the game operator some money and grabbed a large stuffed teddy bear off the wall. After wiping his nose and hugging his new toy Mario led his star over to me.
“Hello Sidney nice to meet you.”
Crosby glowered at me and turned towards Lemieux who nodded parentally.
“Hi” he eventually said “Let’s get this over with.”
“That’s the spirit! Come on, let’s go grab dinner.” Lemieux suggested as he led us towards a table in the back.
We sat down and drinks were served. Lemieux ordered a bottle of red wine for the table and then handed Crosby a Juicy Juice carton.
No one spoke until the waitress came back and poured the wine, only for Mario and myself. Then she asked for our dinner orders. Mario ordered a salad while I jokingly requested Penguin soup, which fell flat, so I settled for Prime Rib.
“I want chicken fingers” Crosby demanded.
“Ooh I’m sorry Sir, we just ran out of that. Is there anything else we can get you this evening?”
“I want chicken fingers.” Crosby repeated.
“Like I said Sir, we don’t have any more chicken fingers. Could I interest you in something else? People really seem to like our sliders.”
“I WANT CHICKEN FINGERS! I WANT CHICKEN FINGERS! I WANT CHICKEN FINGERS!” Crosby screamed as he pounded on the table with both fists in a chanting motion.
Lemieux then took the waitress aside handed her some money and spoke in a hushed whisper. Crosby continued to glare at me.
“There, taken care of. Sidney you’ll get your food, but it is rude to be so demanding.” Lemieux said.
“This is stupid I want to go play some more games.” Crosby stated still eye raping me.
“In a minute, you first have to answer this man’s nice questions.”
“Because that’s what you do in interviews.”
“Because that’s how information is passed.”
“Because people need to see that you aren’t some difficult child who doesn’t respect others.”
“Because you’re the most important person in all of the NHL.” With that Crosby perked up and smiled warmly at his employer. It was obvious that this was not the first time this mini debate had occurred. I chugged my wine and took out my notebook.
“So Sidney, you’ve gotten yourself and others in trouble this series with your on ice temper tantrums and foul play. Would you say that is a fair assessment?”
“No. I’ve been playing good. It’s not my fault we are losing.”
“Well I mean, in all three games the Penguins have scored the first goal and have had leads of 3 and 2 disappear in the third period. As the captain don’t you feel slightly responsible for those losses?”
“No. I’ve scored two goals so far. What has everyone else done?”
“But wouldn’t you say it’s not just about scoring goals, but inspiring your team to victory?”
“That’s what I tried to do by knocking that stupid face’s glove away from him. That was funny.”
“No that was immature and selfish.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. No need for name calling Aaron. Sidney was just having fun out there. Weren’t you Sid.” Said Lemieux.
“I don’t like those Flyers. There big meanies. So if I push their stuff away from them that’s just showing my teammates what I expect from them.”
“But as a direct result of that action you got your best defenseman kicked out of the game and potentially this series.”
“Kris is my friend and he saw I was getting picked on by that scary French Canadian jerk. He was just sticking up for me.”
“Look I’m all for guys protecting their better players but what you did was just a dumb, classless move. You just caused one fight by taking swipes at the goalie, which I actually didn’t have a problem with, but you have to be ready for the repercussions. You should know that any action against the opposing net minder is going to lead to a scrum. Even during the regular season that’s going to cause trouble. The fact that you instigated two fights in under a minute was head scratching.”
“As I said I don’t like those guys.”
“Ok, but what I don’t understand is a guy who for two years had major concussion problems, comes back and instantly starts causing fights. I mean if anyone knows the danger of head injuries it’s you.”
“Well we needed to send a message that they can’t mess with us.”
“Yea but it was a must win game for you. It wasn’t the time to drop the gloves. You saw the Flyers rally back from early deficits with nothing more than hard work and hustle. In the first two games there were zero fights and in this game there were over 130 penalty minutes and 5 ejections. At that time in the game there was no reason to lose your cool like that.”
“I didn’t lose my cool. They fought too. That makes them just as guilty as me.”
“No it doesn’t. While it does take two to tango, you were practically dressed as a prostitute at Charlie Sheen’s house, what did you think was going to happen.”
“Winning!” Crosby said. That outdated joke caused Lemieux to fall off his chair in a fit of laughter.
“Shut the Fuck up Crosby. Look as a Flyers fan I’m glad you became unhinged. Your actions threw your whole team out of whack. Asham and Neal probably won’t play game 4. Kunitz gave us three power play goals and whatever you’ve done to mess with Fleury’s confidence has been great. But come on, you should be better than this. It’s the job of a captain to lead, usually by example. Your example was to bitch and moan.”
“Hey what’s that over there?” Crosby shouted. I turned to see the commotion and when I turned I was given a Wet Willie. “Ha-ha made you look.”
“You know what now I see what’s up. Thanks for your time. I’m outta here. Good luck in game four. You’re going to get fucked.”
I stood up to leave and was quickly tripped by Crosby. I turned and saw him sitting there with that stupid shit eating grin on his face. Yea that one. I got up from the floor and launched myself at him. After a few good punches to his face Lemieux broke us up and pushed Sidney into a corner and grabbed me by the collar and led me out into the game room. Over my shoulder I could hear Sidney continue to taunt me threw his bloodied lips.
“Yea you better run!” he yelled “You’re lucky Mr. Lemieux interfered or I’d kick your butt.” He said all of this while mimicking people holding him back.
Out in the game room Lemieux turned to me. “Look I’m sorry about that. He can be a little cranky if he doesn’t get what he wants.”
“It’s fine, punching Sidney Crosby has been a lifelong dream. But I don’t think he has any idea how fucked up he’s going to get in game 4. Does he really believe they can win the cup playing like that?”
“Oh don’t worry about that we give out participation trophies at the end of the year so everyone feels better about themselves.”
“So Sidney Crosby really is no better than a spoiled brat.”
Just then the waitress from before walked by us carrying a McDonalds Bag and a Mcflurry.
God I hope we beat the shit out of Crosby on Wednesday.