Get out your posterboard and pink markers, Sidney Crosby is coming to town.
There are rumors that he wants to play for
But the more I consider it, after that first instant of thinking he’d definitely look better in red, the more I think I’d be happier to see him stay where he is. I’m concerned about the costs, not only financial, incurred in the acquisition of The Venerable Sidney. I don’t want my team to be a one-man show, even if it is The Sidney Crosby Show. This is, in part, because my team happens to be a team which has a strong and distinctive identity of its own. The Montreal Canadiens, as a concept, should always be about more than any individual player, no matter how extraordinary, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that a lot of (all though by no means all) Montreal fans would be insulted to see the Canadiens referred to firstly by an individual player. The Penguins are never, ever just called the Penguins these days- the headlines are always ‘Sidney Crosby and the Penguins’, as if the rest of the team were his backup singers. The Habs, no matter who is playing, no matter how bad a year they’re having, should never be reduced to the status of sidekicks to a single talent.
My other problem is that I really love the collaborative nature of hockey play, the idea that the best team is that which becomes greater than the sum of its parts, that it is a creature unto itself, built both of the skills of individuals and the elusive, delicate counterbalancing of those skills against each other. There is a tendency for teams with star players to be characterized by bizarre imbalances- one or two phenomenal lines supplemented by others who barely even manage to take up space, dazzling offense supported by threadbare, colorless defense, players who have no function other than the service of the Hero. It’s as if great players distort the Tao of Hockey, as if the quantity of skill on a team was a zero-sum game, only so much energy to go around.
Moreover, as much as I hate to say it, because he is so fascinating to watch, but winning with Sidney Crosby somehow feels cheaper than winning with a bunch of ordinary mortal players. Do you play video games? Well, if you do, you know that in a survival-horror type game, like a Resident Evil or a Silent Hill, once you’ve beaten the game for the first time under particular conditions, you often get some sort of bonus prize weapon for your second play-through. This is generally something like a grenade launcher or machine gun with unlimited ammo, such that you can pretty much blast your way through the game in maybe 2 hours, whereas the first time with normal weapons takes 10 or 15. Now, it can be hella fun to blast zombies for 2 hours, absolutely, but somehow, it’s never quite as fulfilling as that first play-through, where you were constantly scrounging for enough ammunition and getting killed by the same boss over and over again and periodically running for the nearest save point like a little girl and hiding behind furniture and having to find a way to decapitate the demon-nurses with a letter opener and never knowing when you were going to get sucked into the Evil World where everything is made of rusty chain-link fence.
Sidney Crosby is hockey’s version of the magic grenade launcher with unlimited ammo.
But ahbabi can beat this thing with the letter opener.