PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins
coach Michel Therrien
would come to the defense of Sidney Crosby
no matter what. But on Saturday, he expressed his displeasure with having to do it as a result of what the New York Rangers
are talking about.
"Enough is enough," Therrien said. "That's enough."
Before the series began, Rangers coach Tom Renney said he would address diving with officials, and many took that to believe he was talking directly about Crosby and a perception that the Penguins’ captain embellishes some of his tumbles to the ice to bait referees into calling penalties.
On Friday night, the debate heated up when it became obvious that Renney and the Rangers were displeased Martin Straka was called for interfering with Crosby in the neutral zone, away from the puck, with 3:20 to play in the third period of a 4-4 game.
The Penguins wound up scoring the game-winning goal with Straka in the box. When the final buzzer sounded, Straka complained so vehemently he was issued a game misconduct. When asked about the play moments after the game concluded, Renney first dodged the question and later told the gathering media to “draw your own conclusion.”
After Saturday’s practices at Mellon Arena, Therrien, unprovoked, waxed about his disappointment with how his star player is being perceived and treated by the opposition, while Renney downplayed his pre-series remarks concerning Crosby.
This wasn’t typical coachspeak, either.
“This is a star player that plays into traffic, a powerful skater. When a star player like this goes into traffic, well … he’s going to draw a penalty,” Therrien said. “We all know what Tom Renney is trying to do. He tried to do it before we started the series. I saw his comment today. He tried to get attention to the referees. He was complaining about the penalty at the end of the game. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not even close.”
Therrien then suggested that in the pre-lockout NHL, he couldn’t understand why referees swallowed the whistle when players entangled like Straka and Crosby did last night. Now, he said it must be called a penalty no matter the time or the score.
“With the new game it’s about speed, it’s about to make sure good players when they get the chance to make plays you have to make plays,” Therrien said. “It’s a faster game; that’s why you see young players capable of dominating the way they dominate in the National Hockey League. Why don’t we give credit to the guy that plays into traffic?”
Therrien then referenced a moment earlier in the game when Crosby took a shot to the face by Rangers agitator Sean Avery, but no penalty was called.
“Sometimes he’s going to draw penalties and sometimes he’s not, but he’s going to keep going there and eventually he’ll draw a penalty if he keeps going there,” Therrien continued. “He’s not going to go to the outside. That’s not the way he is. He’s not going to take the easy road. He’s going to take the tough road to try to succeed.”
Therrien believes that if Crosby didn’t get wiped out, “we’re probably going to go on a breakaway, so he drew a penalty. I’m kind of disappointed they complained about it.” Given a chance to respond, Renney smartly said nothing incendiary.
“I don’t recall ever suggesting Sidney himself was ever an issue,” Renney stated. “What I do recall suggesting is before every series, you meet with the supervisor of officiating and you talk about the rules of the game in general. Certainly last night, by my answers, I didn’t suggest anybody was outside the rules of the game. I left that for others to conclude.”
Renney also said the Rangers put the Straka penalty and subsequent power-play goal behind them before even leaving the dressing room Friday night. He said the team does a good job of turning the page.
“It’s gone. We can’t do anything about that,” Renney said. “We felt bad for Marty because he’s a straight-up player, but those things happen. I’m certainly not suggesting it wasn’t a penalty. We’ve got a big game (Sunday), and that’s our objective.”
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org