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Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby shakes hands with Detroit Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood after the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. (Paul Sancya)
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby shakes hands with Detroit Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood after the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. (Paul Sancya)

Jeff Blair

Cut Crosby some slack Add to ...

What is it with puckheads, anyhow? Hey, I was as tired as anybody of all the hype Sidney Crosby received coming into the NHL, and I, too, see a little bit of Wayne Gretzky's whining mannerisms in him. But I'm calling B.S. on this nonsense about how Crosby "snubbed" the Detroit Red Wings and, in particular, Nicklas Lidstrom during postgame handshakes after Game 7.

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Cut the guy a break. He'd just won the Stanley Cup and was injured. You think he might have had other things on his mind? Duh! You think the Red Wings were even this much in his thoughts? C'mon.

Here's an idea: If it's so damned important that the handshakes take place then let's keep all the cameramen and announcers off the ice. Let the players do their male bonding thing on the ice, then shake hands and then get on with the rest of the show. Better yet … just live with the randomness of the thing.

Think about it: The complaint, as delivered by Kris Draper of the Red Wings, is essentially that Crosby didn't get over fast enough to satisfy the Wings. Know what? Tough.

Frankly, I think Our Sidney acquitted himself just fine during these playoffs, and I find him infinitely less annoying now than I did going in. I'd like to see him embrace the lifestyle a little more (what's Paris Hilton doing tonight, anyhow?) but I didn't see a snub on the ice. I saw a 21-year-old kid celebrating that he lived up to everybody's expectations. He was due a release. Cut him some slack. He did shake hands with some Wings and head coach Mike Babcock.

It's time we all get over this postgame nonsense. Same thing with ripping LeBron James because he didn't want to shake hands with the Orlando Magic after being eliminated, let alone talk to the media. James's team had just been upset. I certainly don't blame him for not talking to the media or wanting to shake hands, especially considering how the NBA so often seems like one big social gathering.

You got issues with this stuff, you have a pretty good life.

Garbage Time

So let's get this straight: Usain Bolt visits Manchester in mid-May to run in a 150-metre street sprint and trains with Manchester United. After that, United plays its only scoreless home match of the year, loses the Champions League final and loses Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. This week, Bolt runs in Toronto; Roy Halladay leaves his start a day later with a groin injury and the Blue Jays drop three in a row. What's on in Paris on July 18 when Bolt's scheduled to run in the Golden League meet, anyhow? … I covered Joe Nieuwendyk a bit when he was with the Calgary Flames and saw him a bit around the Toronto Maple Leafs. He always struck me as somebody who'd make good management material, and while he could have done better than making Marc Crawford his first hiring, I like the fact that as the new Dallas Stars general manager he didn't feel he had to keep Dave Tippett around to give him a first-year scapegoat … Of course the Blue Jays want Halladay back on the mound as soon as possible. But it's beyond me why they're talking about doing it next Saturday in Washington in an interleague road game where he'll have to bat.

Monday 2 Monday

Of course I'm wondering whether Raul Ibanez of the Philadelphia Phillies is using some type of performance-enhancing substance. So are a lot of people. Truth is, I'm suspicious of just about every athlete in every sport because I know that testing hasn't caught up to the cheaters. I know there are amateur athletes who still try to skirt the system without the benefits of a three-year, $31.5-million (U.S.) contract like Ibanez. I know that truly awful baseball players have failed drug tests. I know that superstars have, too - and, like everybody in this business, I've been fooled before.

So I will never write that any player is "doing it clean," or is "an example in this era of testing," especially when there's no reliable test for human growth hormone. Because I just don't know. Nobody does. Sorry about that.

While most of you were busy worrying about Jim Balsillie or the Stanley Cup, baseball found itself this past week in the middle of a full-blown internet scandal that was instructive on several levels. The musings of a blogger - Jerod Morris of Midwest Sports Fans - about Ibanez's power surge allowed John Gonzales, a columnist with the Philadelphia Inquirer, to drag the elephant out of the room. The column ripped the blogger for writing what he did - the post was more an example of why we need editors than anything else - but of course in doing so allowed the writer to address an issue many people in the mainstream media probably wanted to address.

And know what? That's fair game, as long as libel rules are adhered to. Players, their unions, and their corporate bosses have cultivated the internet - hell, all of us have - and this is the downside. You want to use the internet to sell merchandise? Well, here's the flipside.

The Toronto Blue Jays will take their sorry interleague performance on the road tomorrow with the first of three games at Citizens Bank Park. There, they'll face the 37-year-old Ibanez, who took just 56 games to hit the 20-home run plateau, making him the fastest Phillies hitter to do so by - get this - 21 games. And while I'm watching those games, I won't be wondering about - well, you know - even if he has 22 homers in 242 at bats. What I will be wondering about is what would have transpired had the Blue Jays traded for Ibanez at the trade deadline last year (the Seattle Mariners were going to get Jason Frasor and Lyle Overbay in return) gone through. The Blue Jays were ready to announce it when the Mariners nixed it.

Would the Blue Jays have signed Ibanez and kept him away from free agency? Could they have used the money they'd save with Overbay gone some place else?

As for Ibanez's power surge: He's had some pretty good ones before (15 homers in 50 games in 2002, 18 in 52 in 2006) and that was when he was playing in the American League.

 

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