So pens blog loses the bet and the winner gets to post on the losers site...
So the Pensblog and The 700 Level made a little mayor's wager on the outcome of the Flyers-Pens game last night, wherein the winning city's representative gets to post whatever suits their fancy on the other's site. Naturally, Philly won, and we are here to enjoy our spoils.
While trying to decide how to shape this post, several ideas came to mind. I could do a game thread, complete with hard returns after single sentences, cartoon characters doing adult things, and PhotoShops of Michel Therrian wearing a Borat singlet. Or perhaps I could be inflammatory, titling the post, "Another Chapter in the Annals of Pittsburgh's Inferiority Complex," and discussing the big brother city/little brother city relationship that defines our political and sporting rivalries (ie, you think there's a big rivalry; we don't pay attention to you). However, although they'd be fun and surely provide some oxygen for the comment flame, neither of those things would accurately convey how I feel about the Penguins. To be honest, I've always kind of liked PA's other hockey franchise.
How could anyone, at any time, find fault with Mario Lemieux? I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a black Jagr away jersey, with "Pittsburgh" diagonally down the front and an "A" on the chest (they need to go back to that design, by the way). When I was a wee hockey fan, I collected jerseys as soon as I could afford them, and this was my second favorite (Roy white Canadiens was first). I didn't love the Pens or anything, but it was hard not to be amazed by the play of a young Euro star like Jaromir Jagr. Years later, I wouldn't be caught dead in anything but Phila gear, but times were different when I was 11 years old and skating on a hose-frozen backyard snowfall.
When I heard the Penguins might lose their franchise, I thought it would be a devastating crime against hockey, and definitely the city of Pittsburgh. I nervously tracked the news, which was increasingly ominous for a while. And as much as it may surprise you, when I watched as Super Mario & Co. rebuilt that franchise with unprecedented good draft positions and perfect selections, I was happy. I can't lie; there are quite a few teams for which I have bus-accident hatred… The Penguins just aren't one of them. Not being from New York, New Jersey, or DC helps. We think of you kinda like we think of Baltimore, which is to say, we don't think about you very much at all.
But I am glad to see this rivalry heat up. Since both franchises entered the league in 1967, the Flyers have owned the Pens, winning 50 more games over that time frame. This year, Philly has won the first 4 games. How could I not welcome some new venom, and hopefully, bragging rights? Perhaps with time, rather than Lemieux's iconicism, the Darius Kasparitises of the world will become my new old Pens memories (both his being an absolute scumbag, and also the fact that he's in the frame when Keith Primeau hits "The Shot.")
I can feel my dislike for the boys in Black and Vegas Gold growing daily though, and it does so not because of the Georges Laraque's of the world… my vitriol is aimed almost entirely at Sidney Crosby.
Crosby is undoubtedly a player of amazing talent and scary potential. He will be a thorn in the side of the Flyers and their fans for the next 10 years (at least). However, the same can be said for Evgeni Malkin, and to a lesser extent, Jordan Staal and perhaps Colby Armstrong. I'd love to see any of those latter guys skate in Orange and Black (as well as Laraque). Who wouldn't? I love to watch them play right now, even against my Flyers. But I don't want Crosby. He'd have no place in Philly with his dives, complaints, and expectations of kid-glove treatments. I understand it's crazy not to want an MVP-caliber player on your team, and Paul Holmgren likely wouldn't appreciate me saying so, but I hope to Kate Smith I never see Sid Crosby on the Flyers. He embodies the only kind of player I truly dislike. I like the agitators, the Euro burners, the fourth-line plodding Canadians, the brawlers who have so little talent they might as well where a cape and wrestling tights, even when they're on the other team; but I can't stand an immensely talented player who constantly takes dives, talks trash, but won't fight.
I'll take Mike Richards as my team's captain over Sid Crosby any day of the week. It takes more than scoring. It takes a man to be a leader on the ice, and so far, I don't see Crosby as that kind of guy. Go ahead and throw his stats at me. I know 'em. I don't care. I just don't like him.
That said, when I was having a beer in a hotel bar earlier this week and saw Crosby go down in a heap, with the words "high ankle sprain" at the bottom of the replay, I was pretty disappointed. I knew this great game was right around the corner, and the rivalry is more fun when Sid's on the ice, particularly in Philly. I also freely admit that Sid is great for hockey, a struggling sport that I love. His shootout goal in the Winter Classic helped get hockey some of the attention it deserves, and his absence at the All-Star festivities is unfortunate for the game.