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NHL will not discipline David Steckel for his Winter Classic hit on Sidney Crosby; Crosby not amused

Jan 4, 2011, 9:22 PM EDT

David Steckel, Sidney Crosby

One of the tougher moments for Penguins fans to watch during the Winter Classic came at the end of the second period when Capitals forward David Steckel crushed Pens captain Sidney Crosby with a seemingly late and blindside hit that sent him down the ice and dazed. After the game, Crosby made it clear that he’d didn’t know until just before speaking to the press who hit him. Crosby did make it clear he thought it was a bit late and coach Dan Bylsma said he’d need to see the video before having an opinion on things.

Today the NHL said they would not be taking action against Steckel for the hit on Crosby, and after some time has burned off since then and the Penguins have gotten a look at the tape, they’re not too happy about how things went down Saturday night as Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found out. Crosby, in particular, took a verbal jab about the hit.

“How tall is Steckel?” Crosby asked. “I find it hard to believe that his shoulder hit me in the head … at 6-foot-5 … by accident.”

Penguins tough defenseman Brooks Orpik was a bit more pointed in his take.

“It was definitely dirty,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “Sid was just skating by and he definitely wasn’t near the puck.”

The contact with Crosby’s head was unnecessary, in the Penguins’ eyes.

“It looked like he went a little bit lateral on him, which was the dirty part of it,” Orpik said.

Steckel, for what it’s worth, says that he didn’t even know he hit Crosby that way and that it was just one of those things that happens in a game.

The only catch with the hit, which you can see here, is that it’s tough to tell if Steckel meant to hit Crosby like that or if it was just a sort of freak occurrence that happens because everyone is playing at a high speed. Stu Hackel of Sports Illustrated’s Red Light says that the Penguins complaints are getting old, especially those coming from Sidney Crosby.

As we’ve noted before, Crosby is hardly an innocent on the ice, and that’s fine. It doesn’t diminish his formidable abilities as a player. But if he’s going to whack guys, he’s going to get whacked right back. To complain about it is just plain disingenuous.

We get that whenever something happens with Crosby it’s going to make news, even the slightest of things. When he gets popped in questionable fashion it’s an instant talking point and something that will be poured over on videotape to assess whether or not Steckel is a dirty player or if Crosby is just whining.

In this case, with Sid opening up about it today it’s gamesmanship and self-preservation. Sid will sound off about it now hoping that word gets around and next time he’ll get that call. He’s also voicing his opinion because, let’s face it, getting hit like that stinks and when you’re the biggest name in the game, your words carry a bit more weight to them in the media than if Steckel were to complain about a similar hit from anyone else.

Getting an edge for yourself or your team any way you can that isn’t outright cheating is more than acceptable. Sid’s working the system for what it’s worth. If you’re looking to get mad about things, get mad about the system that will give the Penguins some penalty “karma” of sorts a little bit down the road.

  1. sfbookreviews - Jan 4, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    It was a blind-side hit to the head, which is supposedly something the NHL is serious about eliminating from the game. Intention doesn’t matter, results matter. You can bet if Matt Cooke had hit one of the Caps’ top players with the exact same hit, the entire hockey community would be up in arms.

  2. clusterpuck - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    Crosby and Ovechkin are the reason why games like this one produce the biggest ratings in 36 years. NHL should be protecting guys like that when clowns like Steckel are trying to knock them out. Guys are always trying to break Sid in half or knock him out. I bet the NHL won’t be real happy when somebody finally succeeds at doing so.

    • juanhughjazz - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:22 PM

      crosby and ovechkin shouldn’t be protected any more than any other player. let’s not turn the nhl into the nba.

  3. kantnockdahustle89 - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    @SFBook
    The difference between Cooke hitting someone and Steckel is that Cooke has a strong reputation for playing dirty. If anyone watches the CBC replays of the hit you can see Steckel not even looking at Crosby when he turns around and skates up the ice. He actually tries to move his body around Crosby when he finally sees him there but its too late.
    It sure doesnt help there are more than a few clips of Crosby embellishing hits and even faking injury when he is barely touched. As it turned out nothing was wrong with Crosby and it looked to be an accident. The sport is called hockey not baseball, people run into each other on accident and on purpose.

  4. sfbookreviews - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    I understand what you’re saying and normally would agree. But the NHL made a huge deal about how blind-side hits to the head, regardless of intent, had no place in hockey. I’m not saying protect Crosby because of who he is, I’m saying live up to the standard you set in the off-season. Again, the new rule does not take intent into account. It doesn’t take past history into account. It says a blind-side hit to the head is not tolerated any longer. Period.

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