I'll admit it. Over the course of the last five years, I've participated in the "Crosby Sucks!" chant. Chances are you have too. This might not be a popular opinion, but it's getting to the point now where we should all be embarrassed about that. Hear me out on this.
I understand the reasoning behind the chant. Sidney Crosby is the golden boy of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He's the symbol of Pittsburgh's road to the Stanley Cup -- one that leaned on several years of completely inept management and even more inept hockey before, somehow, "earning" the right to stockpile high draft picks and thus, great players. He's the embodiment, right there in the flesh before our eyes, of everything we hate about the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans.
After all, they walked out on their team when the chips were down. We have a bad team? Oh, see you when you're good again, guys. Bandwagon stuff. There's no denying that, even if you're a Pittsburgh fan. Attendance numbers and relocation scares don't lie. To be rewarded for being terrible is just not in our DNA. It goes completely against the grain.
Here in Philadelphia, the Flyers have always done it the "right" way. Do everything you can to win the Cup. Keep your forever-loyal fans in the seats by rewarding them with wins. Build a new arena with mostly private funds. None of that state money. Do it every single year until you finally win that Cup. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The Penguins were able to do the complete opposite. Lose, lose some more, lose even more, drive the fans away, stockpile draft picks, scare the state into paying for most of your new arena, get young stars, win a Cup. That's not the "right" way to do things, and that's why we hate the Pittsburgh Penguins. That's why we hate Sidney Crosby.
That's where the "Crosby Sucks!" chant is rooted. It's a giant middle finger to the Pittsburgh blueprint. Beyond that, we don't want to admit that he's actually a pretty damn good hockey player. We don't want to admit that their "reward" for doing things their way is actually one hell of a reward. We're too proud to admit that.
For a few years, he made it easy on us. Sure, he has more points against the Flyers than any other team in the NHL, but the diving, the whining and all the crap that surrounded his game made him easy to hate. He was an easy joke. A fun punchline.
But hey, guess what? That's really not really the case anymore.
The whining has essentially disappeared. He's a hard worker, on the ice and off. He's matured. He's earned the respect of his peers. Hell, look at this quote from Chris Pronger, talking at practice yesterday.
"He's probably not whining as much," Chris Pronger said with a laugh. "When you've been in the league long enough and earned your stripes and obviously, winning a Cup, and playing at a high level for five, six years now, you earn your stripes and the respect of the officials. You get the calls. You mature a bit, as well."
Crosby's always going to get the calls. That's just a fact of life. But hey, that last part, coming from a guy like Chris Pronger, is a big deal. Crosby earned the respect of his peers. There is nothing about him that "sucks," and those are just the unfortunate facts.
When we relentlessly say that he does, it makes us look bad. It makes us look like the fans that can't recognize a great player, no matter what team he plays for. It makes us look like the nasty opposite of those fans who cheered Mario Lemieux when he returned to the ice after cancer. It's embarrassing.
How silly would we think Mets fans were if they suddenly started chanting "Halladay Sucks!"? We'd laugh our asses off, wouldn't we? That's what they've been doing in Pittsburgh lately.
So, here's my proposal. Don't ever stop hating Sidney Crosby. After all, he still is the embodiment of everything we hate about the Penguins. Even simpler, he is still a Penguin. But the least we can do is admit to ourselves that he's a special, special hockey player.
That starts with stopping the "Crosby Sucks!" chant. Instead, let's boo him every time he touches the puck. Let's chant "Pittsburgh sucks!" when prompted by David May, the organ player. (Because, let's be real... that ain't even the best city in our state.) Hell, make loud, obnoxious fun of his feminine facial features if you want. Make him feel miserable when he steps into the Well. Make him know, with the passion of a thousand burning suns, that we hate him.
Just don't lie to yourself. Sidney Crosby doesn't suck.