Time for another "Bubba rant".
Am I the only person alive who feels this way, or are other hockey fans getting sick and tired of the never-ending lovefest for Sidney Crosby? "Sid the Kid" this and "Crosby" that, it's practically all you get to read about.
The hype started way back before the youngster was even drafted. It continued into his rookie year, (even though he didn't earn rookie of the year honors), and now the over-kill has reached a crescendo of epic proportions.
This blogger has finally reached his breaking point.
Reading articles day after day which state things like "Crosby has his team in the Finals" makes me wonder if the rest of his team-mates feel slighted. The last time I checked, hockey was a team game. Did the other Penguins have nothing to do with getting the team into the Finals, or are they not worthy of mentioning in the same way?
The problem is, it doesn't stop there.
There have been numerous articles written about how Crosby is the "Face of the NHL", or is the "Future of the NHL". Excuse me, but in my mind "the kid" might not even be the best player on his team, let alone the entire NHL.
Let's put the hype aside for a moment and take a look at some facts.
During the regular season, Evgeni Malkin led the team in scoring with 47 goals and 106 points in 82 games. Crosby scored 24 goals and had 72 points in 53 games. While Crosby had a bad ankle and missed several games because of the injury, Malkin still averaged more goals per games played (.57) than did Crosby (.45). Malkin's shooting percentage was 17% while Crosby's was 14%. Both averaged about the same amount of time on the ice per game, (21 minutes).
While Crosby was injured, Malkin stepped up and arguably was more of a force than Crosby had ever been. The team responded and played their best hockey of the year, (before the playoffs) during the superstar's injury. Was the team trying to send a message to the rest of the NHL? Maybe, just maybe, they are not a one-man hockey team?
The battle for the Conn Smythe should be interesting. Will Crosby win it by default? He has a slim lead in the playoffs scoring race with 21 points while Malkin and Marian Hossa have 19 each.
Although, the surprise of the playoffs for me so far has been the outstanding play of Marc-Andre Fleury. He certainly has to be in the running.
Detroit has a few players who will be making a case for themselves as well. Henrik Zetterberg has 21 points while Pavel Datsyuk has 19. Nicklas Lidstrom is always a force on defense and Chris Osgood has been a rock between the pipes.
Any of them are as equally deserving as Crosby, at least so far.
I have a feeling that the Red Wings will be out to show the world that it might just be a bit too early to dub "the kid", as the "Face of the NHL".
In other Finals news, it seems that the NHL had another brain-dead moment when they scheduled this series. The first three games between the Pens and Wings are on the same exact nights as the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs. That means that the Detroit Red Wings will be playing on the same nights as the Detroit Pistons play.
For instance, the Pistons will be playing at home tonight, the exact same time that the Red Wings are playing at home. The NBA set their times up first, so it's hard to believe that the NHL couldn't have been a bit more creative with their scheduling. Maybe they are required to do Versus' bidding, regardless of other factors?
Would it be surprising to see a few empty seats at the Joe tonight as corporate executives who have over-lapping tickets make the tough choice of watching the Pistons game instead of the Wings? Not only that, but the NHL will be butting heads with the television coverage as well. If you are a Pistons fan in addition to being a Wings fan, which game will you watch?
If you are just an "average joe" sports fan surfing the channels for something to watch tonight, are you more apt to watch the basketball playoffs on ABC TV, or watch hockey on Versus? Don't think too hard before answering that question. Most of the "average joe's" won't even be able to find the hockey game.
While Versus is liable to do very well, (for them), as far as ratings go for this game, the overall ratings could be much better if things were handled properly and with better planning.
Right now the NHL has a huge opportunity to bring new fans into the sport because of this premier matchup between two of the most skilled, exciting teams in the league, yet it seems as if the people at the top of the league think small. As long as they continue to think small, the league will always remain a 2nd tier sport to most people who follow sports.
By the way just in case you haven't heard, Sidney Crosby is the youngest Captain to ever play in a Stanley Cup Finals. I thought you might like to know that little tidbit before I sign off and go mow my yard.
The Dave Matthews Band