Sidney Crosby is maybe the most polarizing superstar the NHL has ever had. (I admit to being a big-time Crosby stan, but I really don’t understand the other side of it. If you can’t appreciate rare greatness, well, what the hell do you even watch sports for?) But I hope we can all come together and agree that he is a goddamned hero for unhesitatingly putting his mitts all over the Prince of Wales Trophy.
It’s longtime hockey superstition for players to refuse to touch the conference trophies. (The Predators avoided the Campbell Bowl like it was filled to the brim with MRSA.) The reasoning goes that the Stanley Cup is the only trophy that matters, so you should avoid celebrating with a conference trophy because it’s the only one you’ll get. It’s cute but it’s also a little baffling. Athletes are generally superstitious people, but when both conference champions avoid their trophies and one of them wins the Cup anyway, that seems like a pretty clear sign that the touching has nothing to do with it.
After beating the Senators in 2OT last night, Crosby, joined by Evgeni Malkin (who put a hand on it) and Game 7 hero Chris Kunitz (who did not), not only posed with the Wales Trophy but picked it up and took it back to the dressing room. Maybe he slept with it. Maybe he’s drinking coffee out of it right now. Maybe he’s chasing down superstitious teammates and forcing them to touch it. It’s just a heavy shiny thing.
Crosby used to believe in the superstition. After his first Eastern Conference championship, in 2008, he refused to touch the trophy. Pittsburgh lost to Detroit in six. The next year, he said fuck it and picked it up. Pittsburgh beat Detroit in seven. He lifted it again last year, before winning his second Stanley Cup. This ought to be all the proof needed that it doesn’t matter.
Pick up the dang trophy! Go nuts! Drink beer out of it! (Does the lid even come off? If not, I dunno, roll dough with it.) It’s really, really hard to make the final, and you deserve to celebrate and feel good before buckling down for it. If it’s good enough for Steve Yzerman, Scott Stevens, and Sidney Crosby, it’s good enough for everyone else.