Crosby ripped for not playing for Canada

 

 
 
 
 
Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby faces the media after practice at the Penguins practice facility in Southpointe, Pa. on Saturday, May 1, 2010.
 

Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby faces the media after practice at the Penguins practice facility in Southpointe, Pa. on Saturday, May 1, 2010.

Photograph by: John Mahoney, Montreal Gazette

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COLOGNE, Germany — Team Canada responded on Wednesday to an attack by the International Ice Hockey Federation against North American and European players, including Canadian Olympic hero Sidney Crosby, who aren’t playing at the IIHF world hockey championship.

“I think it’s inappropriate,” said Hockey Canada official Scott Salmond, director of men’s national teams.

IIHF communications director Szymon Szemberg, in a commentary on the home page of the organization’s official website earlier Wednesday, ripped no-shows for turning their backs on their national teams, their fans and the hockey organizations that helped them develop.

He questioned excuses such as nagging injuries or, in Crosby’s case, a long stretch of hockey that includes the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs, an 82-game regular season, the Vancouver Olympics, and two rounds of playoffs this year.

“Why is a 22-year-old Sidney Crosby tired when a 34-year-old Ryan Smyth is answering the bell for his country despite having represented Canada at the worlds already on eight occasions?” he wrote.

“Players who say no to representing their country at the world championship without a legitimate reason turn their backs not only on the team and its fans but also to the system which developed them and made them rich and famous.

“They should pay back, but they don’t.”

Salmond said he will raise Canada’s objections privately at the next Hockey Canada-IIHF meeting.

Team Canada captain Ray Whitney said the IIHF is being unfair to players like Crosby and is displaying ignorance about the grind of the NHL season.

“The IIHF doesn’t understand how hard the NHL is and how hard the schedule is,” said Whitney, who took over as captain after Smyth was knocked out of the tournament with an ankle injury.

“I don’t think it’s fair for him to say that. I think he should concentrate more on making (the tournament) more appealing for guys like him to want to come over here and play.”

Szemberg defended his commentary, telling Canwest News Service he’s received many positive comments from fans on Facebook and from journalists via e-mail.

Team Canada general manager Mark Messier has made it clear that he was putting no pressure on Olympians to participate this year.

The only member of the gold medal-winning Canadian team in February to participate is rugged Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry.

Szemberg praised high-profile participants like Russian superstar Alexander Ovechkin and Czech superstar Jaromir Jagr for attending this year’s tournament.

But he blasted the 25 other elite Czech players — as well as numerous top players from countries like Sweden and Switzerland — for rejecting invitations.

He estimated that 100 to 120 players who could have played in the 16-team tournament either turned down invitations or made clear in advance that they wouldn’t be available.

And many of them didn’t have the excuse of being tired or unavailable due to the NHL playoffs.

“This is by no means exclusively an NHL/Stanley Cup issue,” he wrote.

“Players who earn serious money in European professional leagues are also too tired or too unmotivated.”

He noted that many players beg off due to injuries or fatigue even though it was known that they’d have played with pain had their teams remained in the playoffs.

“How can a player who is 22 or 25 or 27, and who was just eliminated from the playoffs, be tired? Tired is a miner who works in a damp pit in Miktivka, in the Donetz Plateau in Ukraine, who never sees daylight and who provides living for a family of five in a modest two-room apartment. That is tired.

“Tired is a divorced mother with two young kids who double shifts as a nurse assistant and cleaning lady to make ends meet.”

The tournament is viewed as a major event for European hockey fans though it is an afterthought for NHL playoff-focused North Americans.

 
 
 
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Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby faces the media after practice at the Penguins practice facility in Southpointe, Pa. on Saturday, May 1, 2010.
 

Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby faces the media after practice at the Penguins practice facility in Southpointe, Pa. on Saturday, May 1, 2010.

Photograph by: John Mahoney, Montreal Gazette

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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