Saturday, June 20, 2009

Are We Seriously Still Talking About This?...

For cryin' out loud, can we just move on already? It's been a little over a week now, and the Handshake Incident is still being discussed. Snapshots has a link to yet another media "analysis" of it. I mean, really, there's nothing else we can talk about? There's nothing else Nick Lidstrom could've been asked about at the NHL Awards show? Nothing?

I realize that I'm only continuing the discussion by contributing it, but there's a certain amount that I can take in silence, and once that level is reached, I have to have my say about it.

The general consensus is that this whole thing was started when Kris Draper called Crosby out for not shaking Lidstrom's hand after the game. One of the Pittsburgh writers described him as having "piggybacked his way to four championships," which is a funny way to describe a former Selke winner who's been a heart and soul guy on the most dominant team in the NHL for 16 years now. Granted, under any other circumstance, I don't think Draper would've spoken out that way, but the fact remains that he wasn't the one who started this whole nightmare. It was Crosby, out on the ice at Joe Louis Arena, not participating in half of the handshake line.

The standard Crosby defense from the adoring media is that he's just a young kid reveling in his first Stanley Cup. That's wonderful, but he's still the captain of the Penguins. I'm one year older than Crosby, but you don't see me tossing my relative youth around as an excuse for all of my failures. You can either be an overwhelmed kid who got lost in the shuffle, or you can be a man who displays leadership worthy of wearing the C. You can't have it both ways if you want to earn any respect in this world.

Also, you'd think that a guy who's been followed around by media for years would realize when he's about to put his skate in his mouth. His quotes about the expectation to participate in the handshake line being "unreasonable" and having the "right to celebrate" did nothing to erase his league-wide (outside of Pittsburgh and Gary Bettman's office) as being a petulant child. Who knows? Maybe he's really a nice guy. Maybe he spends all of his free time helping little old ladies cross the street with their groceries. But the fact remains that all he had to do is say something to the effect of, "I'm sorry. I honestly didn't mean to insult anyone. I got caught up in the moment and I know I was a little bit late to the handshake line. I certainly didn't mean to disrespect one of our great hockey traditions," and it all would've gone away. Just like when Chris Chelios had to apologize for not shaking the Ducks' hands in '07 (and for the record, I was pretty angry at him when he left the ice like that.)

It clearly was neither the end of the world nor a career-defining moment for Crosby, so at this point, why should anyone care? Nobody in their right mind is going to say, "Gee, I really liked that Crosby guy until he skipped half of a handshake line." For the rest, and I think majority, of us out there, it's just one more incident to file away with in our mental Why Crosby's A Classless and Miserable Excuse for A Captain files. Believe me, if this didn't sway you, the Handshake sure won't.

Honestly, the worst part of all of this is the fact that it's resulted in Draper, Lidstrom, and Henrik Zetterberg, who also made an uncharacteristically blunt comment, getting dragged through the mud by almost everyone. I'm pretty sure nobody before now has accused any of those three guys of anything remotely controversial. Let's face it, this guy had to use Terminator effects and grope his chest to make a Nick Lidstrom interview interesting. (Watch Lidstrom's face at the end of this interview. I don't think he even knows what to do.) Mostly I suspect they all just want this to go away. But if there's one thing reporters love, it's controversy and scandal, so you can be pretty sure that this is going to be rehashed over and over again until it makes you want to kick babies.

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