We'll worry about the Rangers in a bit, don't worry. - Travis
If there's one single thing that can sum up our general disdain of the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fan base, it's the general holier-than-thou attitude summed up here:
See, I KNOW this: W or L, Pens will handle series w/class &character. Flyers, their fans will act like punks. #sameasiteverwas— Mark Madden (@MarkMaddenX) April 3, 2012
That's Mark Madden of 105.9 The X in Pittsburgh. The X website features such sections as the "Daily Thong" and "Wet On The Net," which seems relevant when it comes to background.
I'm not necessarily familiar with Madden's work, but after reading way too much of his Twitter timeline and listening to a few clips from his radio show, it's basically what you see above: Pandering to the least-common denominator, or the problem with most sports talk radio.
Note: It's worth saying that a radio host in a city does not represent that whole city, and not all Pittsburgh fans fall into the same boat here. We're not trying to generalize. That said, there are a lot of Penguins fans that have these same opinions, and since the start of the Crosby era, we've had to endure this type of thing quite often.
Let's knock this bullshit off right now. The Pittsburgh Penguins will handle this series with class and character? This myth that the Penguins always take the high road while the Flyers are the scumbags from the Eastern side of the state? It couldn't be further from the truth, and you don't need to have a MBP (master's degree in the Battle of PA) to realize it.
All you had to do was watch Sunday's game.
To recap (and this is all that NBC included in this package -- there was more):
- An Evgeni Malkin punch to the back of Claude Giroux's head behind the play.
- An Evgeni Malkin punch to Sean Couturier's chin, completely unprovoked. Couturier responded by pushing back on the much-bigger Malkin.
- An Evgeni Malkin "pitch-fork" to Marc-Andre Bourdon's balls (!) while Bourdon was down on the ice after blocking a shot.
- Sidney Crosby taking a run at Brayden Schenn behind the play. Schenn responded by cross-checking Crosby in the back. Crosby complained to the officials thereafter. (Yes, oddly, Crosby's initial move here wasn't replayed a million times by the NBC game broadcast like the cross-check was. Lacks the same sex appeal, I guess.)
I'm not going to say the Flyers are the classy team and the Penguins are dirty cheap shot artists. It's playoff time. Both teams are dirty as hell. Both teams are doing whatever they can to get the upper-hand, whether that's physically or mentally.
Malkin's doing it. Crosby's doing it. Joe Vitale's doing it. Schenn and Couturier are doing it. Max Talbot's doing it. Everybody is doing it.
Let's not pretend that either team has the moral high ground here. Moral high ground has never existed in a sports rivalry. It doesn't exist in this one, it doesn't exist in Eagles vs. Cowboys, nor does it exist in Steelers vs. Ravens or Yankees vs. Red Sox or UNC vs. Duke.
And really, that's okay. Professional hockey isn't necessarily family-friendly entertainment. It's not Gladiator sport and it's constantly evolving away from barbarism, but that doesn't mean it has to be as refined as tea with the queen either. When the world's best athletes are competing against other athletes that they genuinely hate, both sides will do whatever it takes to win.
It's time to throw any notion of a moral compass out the window.