Is Sidney Crosby a dirty player? The numbers say ‘No’

crosby

For all of you out there who think Sidney Crosby is nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or at the very least a rat wearing a Penguin costume, consider what the all-knowing Google has to say on the matter.

Type the words “Sidney Crosby dirty,” into the search engine and it comes back with 215,000 results. That’s a pretty good chunk. But type “Sidney Crosby clean” into Google and 399,000 results are returned.

So there you have it. Crosby is not a dirty player, or at least he’s cleaner than he is dirty. Google says so.

Suffice to say there has been a firestorm of opinion over Crosby’s pitchfork to the Dominic Moore’s junk in the dying seconds of Game 6 of the Penguins second-round series against the New York Rangers. Did Crosby deserve a penalty on the play? You bet he did. Does he deserve a fine, even if it represents about as much money as he makes for falling out of bed in the morning? Oh yeah, for sure. (Actually, if yours truly were running the league, Crosby would be sitting out Game 7 of the series. But that would force the league to have, pardon the pun, the stones to do that to Crosby and all the other players who are either vicious or reckless with their sticks.)

But does it make Crosby a dirty player? Well, let’s put it this way, he’s certainly no more dirty than most of the other players in the league. But Crosby is a touchstone for controversy and one vicious pitchfork makes him an awful, awful person in the eyes of many. But that should come as no surprise. Crosby gets called pretty much everything – whiner, diver, prima donna – by the paying public, a Canadian citizenry that is only too happy to proudly claim him as its own when he’s an Olympic hero.

Back in 2012, Craig Berube was an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers and had this to say about Crosby: “Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin are the two dirtiest players on their hockey team. They slash, they punch guys in the face, they do all those little things. (Crosby) gets away with too much in my opinion – whines to the refs all day and all night. It’s a joke.” Mike Milbury, who should know a dirty player when he sees one once said, “there’s a little punk in Crosby.”

Over the course of his career, Crosby has received a total of 18 highsticking minors, 26 slashing penalties and 13 for crosschecking. That’s 57 stick fouls in 550 games, which comes to an average of one in every 9.7 games. And 11 of those 26 slashing penalties came five seasons ago when Crosby was far more temperamental and less mature. In fact, Crosby has received only two slashing penalties in the past four years and has never been called for spearing in the regular season or the post-season. In the playoffs, he receives on in every 7.8 games. That’s hardly the mark of a “dirty” player. To suggest that Crosby is dirty is to buy into the notion that he has referees all around the league hoodwinked into thinking he’s a choir boy when he’s actually a nefarious rat who plots vicious deeds behind their backs.

Neither of them is true. Crosby is hardly an angel and his penchant for complaining to the officials does get to be a bit tiresome at times. But one egregious pitchfork does not a dirty player make.