Mike Damante" />
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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Hockey needs a little more openness

Add some more fuel to the already-growing fire in the NHL’s newest rivalry – the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals.

Capitals forward Alexander Semin recently called out Penguins center Sidney Crosby for being overrated, over-marketed and uninteresting in an interview with Russian magazine Sovetsky Sport. Semin’s scathing commentary on the NHL’s golden boy is a little off.

Crosby is interesting; he is a playmaker who can pass the puck any way and score goals from his knees. Crosby also scored more than 100 points in his first two seasons in the league and was the youngest player ever to win the Art Ross scoring trophy at 19 in 2007. That same season, Crosby also won the Hart Trophy, awarded to the league’s most valuable player.

Crosby is good, but Semin has a point in saying that the league does too much to market "Sid the Kid." The NHL is not a one-player league, as there are plenty of players who are marketable to a mainstream sports audience.

Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin is a dynamic, passionate sniper who some argue is the world’s best player. San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton is a monster of a man but plays with finesse and grace. Calgary Flame forward and captain Jarome Iginla’s mixed ethnicity could be used to market the sport to minorities.

Semin is second in the NHL in scoring with 16 points and fourth in goals with eight. If he continues his pace at season’s end, maybe he will have more room to talk.

While Semin’s argument does have some flaws, it is good to see players speak up. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has done a horrible job of not letting the character and personalities of his players shine.

Former all-star and future Hall of Famer Brett Hull was constantly fined for speaking his mind about the way the game was played. The San Jose Sharks’ Jeremy Roenick has always been one of the league’s most outspoken and popular players. Dallas Stars center Sean Avery is brash, aggressive and highly entertaining as a player. Off the ice, Avery has established himself as a fashion guru (he interned at Vogue magazine), aspiring actor, ladies’ man and an individual who is not afraid to break the mold of the stereotypical athlete.

Right or wrong, it is good to see players like Semin speak their mind.

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