NASHVILLE — It was more than two hours after the triumphant Pittsburgh Penguins began celebrating on the Bridgestone Arena ice. In the Penguins’ dressing room that looked like a tornado had just blown through, Sidney Crosby was having almost a private moment with his mother, Trina.
The Penguins captain was still in his hockey pants and stockings, his skates at least replaced by sandals. Cradling hockey’s grandest prize for the third time in his career, he was wearing a Stanley Cup champions T-shirt, a ball cap bearing a similar message and a fatigued grin of complete satisfaction.
Countless beer cans and champagne bottles scattered on tables and the floor around them, with players and families milling noisily about, Crosby leaned close to his mother, looked her in the eye, exchanged a smile and said nothing at all.
Sometimes, silence is profoundly louder than words.
In a room across the hall sat the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to Crosby for the second straight year as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It looked almost lonely, its only company four empty beer cans while a computer monitor above cycled through the logos of 30 NHL teams.
Make no mistake, Crosby is fiercely proud of having repeated as winner of the trophy. Only Philadelphia Flyers goalie Bernie Parent, in 1974 and 1975, and Penguins legend and co-owner Mario Lemieux, in 1991 and 1992, have won it consecutively since it was introduced in 1965.
But it’s the Stanley Cup — the pursuit of it, the capture of it — that fuels Crosby.
In the midst of the madness, I found a private moment to speak with the Penguins captain about late Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Béliveau. Le Gros Bill, one of the greatest players and ambassadors hockey has known, won 10 Stanley Cup titles with the Canadiens from 1956-71, his second five as captain.
Crosby’s father, Troy, adored the Canadiens earlier in his life and was selected by Montreal as a goalie in the 1984 NHL Draft (No. 240), though he never played in the NHL.
Clearly, Sidney Crosby also admires and respects Béliveau for his play on the ice and his exemplary life off it.
“There’s still a big part of Jean Béliveau in my heart,” he said, emotion in his voice.
In a doorway across the hall, the Conn Smythe behind them, Crosby and his father squeezed tight for a photo with the Stanley Cup that still was in the player’s grasp.
On the ice two hours earlier, Troy Crosby tried to find the words for a father who had just seen his son write another remarkable chapter in his life and that of the only team for which he’s played.
“It doesn’t get old. It’s awesome,” he said, watching his son try to navigate a rink packed with players, coaches, management, families and media.
“I’ve seen Sid grow as a person and a player. I’ve seen him mature into a great leader. They’re all great,” Troy Crosby said, unwilling to rank the three victories. “There’s a little gap there after the first one (in 2009) with injuries and things, so it’s nice for him to come back and win again.
“He’s a competitor and a winner, that’s all. He always was, so what we’ve seen this series isn’t anything new to me.”
Winning the Cup isn’t anything new to Crosby; he’s done it three times in his 12 NHL seasons. But across the rink, beaming, was Penguins assistant Jacques Martin, who waited 30 years in professional hockey to win his first Stanley Cup championship last season. Now he’s won two in a span of 12 months.
“This one’s definitely sweeter,” Martin said. “When you look at our team this year, the injuries we had to go through, the character, the number of players who played hurt, it was outstanding. It was a difficult road when you look at the teams that cheap nhl jerseys we had to play — Columbus, fourth overall, played really well, then Washington was the No. 1 team overall and it takes us seven games against them. Then Ottawa, who played extremely well, and then Nashville. It was a difficult path but one that was very rewarding. The guys are really happy with the result. It just shows the character of our team.”
A career hockey man hugely respected for his teaching, Martin liberally spread the credit for the Penguins’ victory.
“It’s a lot of credit to the organization,” he said. “The acquisitions we made at the [NHL Trade Deadline] were key as is the leadership we have on this team. It’s one of the best leaderships I’ve been associated with.
“Our coaching staff has great chemistry, we work really well together. We bring different dimensions and I think that (coach) Mike Sullivan has done an outstanding job managing the players, getting the best out of our star players as well as some of our young kids.”
Though Penguins goalie Matt Murray will get the lion’s share of credit for his goaltending down the playoff stretch, his shutout of the Nashville Predators in Game 6 a bold exclamation mark, Martin pointed to Marc-André Fleury as a tremendously valuable member of the Penguins.
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to both of our goaltenders, this year it was really a team effort,” he said. “Marc-André really was a key cog in our first two series, allowing us to continue, then Matt came back in the third series and took it from there. To me it speaks highly of the people we have on this team.”
The Penguins partied deep into the wee hours, scheduling their charter back to Pittsburgh shortly before noon. The Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy would fly with them, a parade in the works, and the Cup will spend the summer traveling far and wide. Martin will again bring it to his hockey school outside of Montreal, and Crosby surely will celebrate for the second consecutive summer in his hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
But those are plans for future celebrations. For now, it was time to enjoy what they had just accomplished.
The last I saw Crosby early Monday morning, going on three hours after the Penguins successfully defended their championship, he was still in his hockey pants. And as captain, in a labyrinth of celebration, he unquestionably was custodian of and tour guide for the Stanley Cup, anyone who took it off his hands making sure they returned it.
The transactions ranged from predictable to staggering. They shaped the coming season for three marquee Canadian franchises. And they happened at once — or, more precisely, within 23 minutes on an otherwise leisurely June afternoon.
Taylor Hall, the Edmonton Oilers’ top scorer in three of the past four seasons, was traded to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson on June 29; the deal was announced at 3:34 p.m. ET. By 3:57, word emerged that Steven Stamkos had re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning on the eve of free agency, spurning, among other likely suitors, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In many off-seasons, these deals would have been momentous enough to dominate chatter for the rest of the summer. But something, of course, happened in between.
There are a few reasons why the Montreal Canadiens’ blockbuster swap with the Nashville Predators quickly upstaged the Hall-for-Larsson deal. P.K. Subban and Shea Weber were cornerstones of typically strong teams. Weber was a Canadian Olympic hero, Subban the Norris Trophy winner of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. And since they play the same position, it’s inevitable they’ll be compared for the duration of their careers.
In that spirit, here at the end of their first regular season with their new teams, let’s compare them.
A cheap nhl jerseys authentic few caveats should be noted from the outset. Claiming Weber had a superior season to Subban, as most metrics discussed below indicate, doesn’t mean Weber, who’s four years older and signed through 2025-26, has made Montreal the winner of the trade. And their bodies of work this season are not quite equal: Subban missed 16 games from Dec. 15 to Jan. 20 with an upper-body injury.
That said, Weber has the edge through 2016-17. Here’s why.
*All stats are from NHL.com unless otherwise noted.
The NHL has fined Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf $10,000 — the maximum allowed under the league’s collective bargaining agreement — after he directed a slur toward “another on-ice participant” in Thursday night’s Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Nashville Predators. The league did not specify the name of the “participant” Getzlaf was insulting, but television replays showed him saying something to an official from Anaheim’s bench.
“Getzlaf’s comment in Thursday’s game, particularly as directed to another individual on the ice, was inappropriately demeaning and disrespectful, and crossed the line into behavior that we deem unacceptable,” Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior executive vice president of hockey operations, said via the league’s website. “The type of language chosen and utilized in this instance will not be tolerated in the National Hockey League.”
You can get the idea of what Getzlaf actually said here.
Getzlaf’s punishment was lighter than the one given in last year’s playoffs cheap authentic jerseys to Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, who was suspended for one game and fined $5,000 for directing a homophobic slur toward an official.
“While Mr. Shaw was apologetic and remorseful for both the offensive comments and the inappropriate gesture directed at the on-ice officials, he must be held accountable for his actions,” Campbell said at the time. “The emotion of the moment cannot and will not be a mitigating factor for the conduct that is expected of an NHL player.”
PITTSBURGH — Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who looked almost invincible in Stanley Cup Final Games 3 and 4 in Nashville, was cheap jerseys nhl pulled after giving up three goals on nine shots in the first period of Game 5.
He was replaced by backup Juuse Saros at the start of the second period, and Saros gave up a goal to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Conor Sheary at 1:19 on the first shot he faced. That gave Pittsburgh a 4-0 advantage, and they went on to win 6-0. Saros gave up three goals on 15 shots in relief.
Defenseman Ryan Ellis said Tuesday Rinne was the team’s MVP all season long. It stings, then, that his play has hurt his team so far. Keep in mind Nashville has a 64-39 shot advantage so far in this series. At the other end of the ice stands Mr. Cucumber, aka the cool Matt Murray, efficient in his movements, steady and unflappable. The Penguins easily could’ve trailed after two periods Wednesday, but Murray wasn’t having it. He finished Game 2 with 37 saves.
It wasn’t as if Rinne gave up soft goals. He seemed to be screened on defenseman Justin Schultz’s shot from the point that started the scoring. Bryan Rust beat him with a well-placed backhander in the upper-right corner and Evgeni Malkin whistled a shot high into the net with 11 seconds left in the period.
As soon as the Penguins won the Stanley Cup Sunday night on the back of a garbage fluke of a goal from Patric Hornqvist, I knew it was only a matter of time before the made-in-Quebec P.K. hating roared back into action.
Sadly, I was right.
Social media was an ugly place to be Monday for people like me who are P.K. Subban fans and think that Marc Bergevin made a huge mistake shipping the Norris Trophy-winning defenceman to Nashville last year in return for Shea Weber.
On Sunday night, I tweeted to say the hating was about to begin and it elicited this response:
Right back at you in reverse. People like you turned us against Subban.
Then someone else responded to my original tweet about the hating, tweeting that the hating was “Music to my ears!”
Yet another Subban hater popped up to opine that “I trash Subban on here so much just to counter the fake (Habs) fans who sh*t on Weber and the rest of the organization.”
There was also no shortage of Subban bashing on Facebook.
Like Mike Herman, who posted this on top of a photo of Sidney Crosby with the Stanley Cup: “Thank Mr. Subban for this one. In that never-ending quest to be the centre of attention he poked and agitated a bear named Sid who dominated sending Smashville home in tears. His act will wear thin soon enough there (too).”
That, of course, was a reference to the trash talking between Subban and Crosby, who’d been in close quarters on the ice for much of the series. P.K. claimed Sid had told Subban he had bad breath and Subban responded that he’d taken his Listerine as usual that day. The anti-Subban narrative suggests he “poked the bear” and that Crosby suddenly came to life. Of course the problem is it’s not true. Crosby had a great playoff run from start to finish and ended up with 27 points in 24 games. He didn’t win the Conn Smythe just because he picked up in the last three games of the Final!
On TSN 690 Monday afternoon, host and former Habs player Chris Nilan and columnist and former Habs player Sergio Momesso were knocking Subban for making so much noise off-ice. And I don’t even need to watch L’Antichambre on RDS and Dave Morissette’s show on TVA Sports this week to know they’ll be kicking Subban in the head — for the very good reason that they’ve been consistently doing that ever since P.K. first donned a Habs sweater in 2010.
So why are the haters so full of hatred? Excellent question. For some reason, the folks who thought Bergevin was smart to trade Subban for Weber are incredibly intolerant of any discussion on the matter and it drove them crazy that thousands of Montrealers continued to be Subban fans even though he was playing in Tennessee. The Shea crowd was shouting almost from day one that the debate had to be closed, that we had to “get over it” and Bergevin, naturally enough, supported this discourse, quickly saying he would no longer be taking questions on the trade.
The pro-Shea/pro-Bergevin types keep saying that we are not “real” Canadiens fans because we still like Subban and were cheering for the Predators in the playoffs. It’s true that many of the Subban fans are indeed hyper critical of current Montreal Canadiens management. I confess. I may have launched one or two arrows in M. Bergevin’s direction.
But it only makes sense. If you think the trade was a huge misstep for Montreal, chances are you’re not thinking Bergevin is an ace GM. And that’s part of the roots of the hating. The anti-P.K. brigade don’t like the Subban love-in because it is something of a resistance movement against the Bergevin regime. Yes we wanted Subban to win the Cup in part to make it even more obvious that the Habs GM had made a big mistake. But that’s okay. We don’t need the Cup to prove that thesis.
With the exception of the Montreal media haters, there was widespread agreement in the hockey media elsewhere that Subban was having a monster playoff. He was on the ice against the top lines of Chicago, St. Louis, Anaheim and Pittsburgh and with the exception of the game last Thursday, he mostly shut them right down. Predators coach Peter Laviolette was playing him more than any other Preds skaters most nights and he wasn’t doing that because P.K. had the best smile on the team. He was one of the best players in these playoffs.
So why the hatred? Partly it’s because to love Subban is to have issues with the way the Habs are run. But it’s bigger and uglier than that. Bergevin and former coach Michel Therrien constructed a narrative that day-in and day-out subtly and sometimes not so subtly insinuated Subban was a cancer in the room. It’s unprecedented for management to treat a star player like that.
And a large portion of the Habs fan base bought into that nasty storyline. And now they’re happy to kick him when he’s down. Classy.
And is it even uglier than that? Does race have something to do with the hatred? I hope not. But it’s lurking there in the background. I had a couple of friends who went down to see a Habs game in Boston during that epic Bruins series in 2014 and they heard cheap jerseys China a lot of racist comments outside the rink.
I mean the National Hockey League is a very white league and Subban is one of the few black stars, so it is an odd coincidence that he is one of the few players who’s booed in every rink he plays in. Was race part of the reason he was in a perpetual conflict with Canadiens management? I don’t really think so. I think it was a cultural clash between conservative managers who didn’t know how to deal with a 21st-century player with a big ego.
But I do think all of the Habs “fans” gleefully hating on Subban in the wake of the Preds loss should maybe think about the optics of their Subban trashing. At best, it ain’t pretty.