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Sidney Crosby’s Accusation Against Zdeno Chara Another Low Point For The Face Of The NHL

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
(Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Sidney Crosby is boldly going where no hockey player has ever gone before: He’s complaining about an innocuous hit from a hockey game two weeks after the fact, and he’s claiming ill intent.

Well, Crosby’s not even doing the complaining himself, leaving his agent, Pat Brisson, to be his mouthpiece. As Damien Cox of the Toronto Star passed along on Friday, “Sidney Crosby’s agent is convinced Zdeno Chara of the Bruins intentionally punched Crosby where he had broken his jaw in Game 1. Nasty.”

Game 1, in case you have forgotten, took place two full weeks before the agent spread the word. The reason may be because it took a while to not only find footage of the “punch” but to then display in slow-motion in such a way that it looked to be a heavy blow to the jaw. In real speed, Chara’s “punch” of Crosby was nothing more than a shove with his left arm, which only came after Crosby had grabbed the back of Chara’s shoulder pads following a whistle in front of the Boston net.

But in super slow-motion, and with some sort of mega zoom, Crosby and his agent were convinced that Chara had purposefully taken the time to carefully target Crosby’s exposed jaw with a direct jab in the middle of a scrum. And so they gathered the video and sent it along to TSN, which was happy to “report” on the wretched assault on hockey’s golden boy. (TSN’s Darren Dreger actually took Chara aside to show him the video. Chara is in the middle of playing for the Stanley Cup.)

The play in question came just five minutes into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. Tuukka Rask covered a puck, and Chara shoved Brenden Morrow out of the crease. Crosby reached out with his left hand and grabbed the back of Chara’s neck. Chara turned, saw Crosby grabbing onto him, and shoved him with his left hand to separate himself from Crosby. The Penguins’ captain did not let go of the Bruins’ captain, and after exchanging a few words, they were eventually separated by officials.

While the Zapruder-esque slow-motion footage provided by TSN looks damning for Chara, the video at regular speed (uploaded to YouTube by user @dafoomie) of the “incident” shows it for it is: nothing.

First and foremost, if Crosby’s jaw was not able to withstand the punishment that takes place during Stanley Cup playoff games, then the plastic shield guarding his jaw should never have been removed from his helmet. But it was, and that’s not any opponent’s fault.

“[Team doctors are] comfortable with it coming off, being hit and things like that,” Crosby said of the removal of his face shield prior to the series against the Bruins, thereby indicating his jaw was OK.

If Crosby wanted special treatment due to an injury from which doctors determined he had already recovered, then he shouldn’t have been on the ice at all.

Secondly, and perhaps worst of all, is the fact that this may be the first time in history that a hockey player has complained publicly about generic post-whistle roughhousing two weeks after it happened. Hockey is a man’s game, played by self-respecting tough guys who can get gashed open by a skate blade and still pretend like it doesn’t hurt. And yet, there is Crosby, upset he was shoved by a man whom he had grabbed seconds earlier. Accusing Chara of targeting his jaw two weeks after the fact is no doubt an unprecedented move in hockey’s rich history. (Continued…)