The NHL needs its bandwagon fans

Lance Lysowski

At the 2010 Winter Olympics, Team Canada won the gold medal in ice hockey in overtime over Team USA on the stick of a kid who’s used to being in the spotlight — Sidney Crosby.

As a Pittsburgh Penguins fan and Pittsburgh native, I wasn’t surprised. I was a fan when the Penguins were fielding a team of clowns that included NHL rejects like Rico Fata, Milan Kraft, Kelly Buchberger and Steve McKenna. As fast as I saw players come and go, fans gave up on the once-proud franchise until a kid named Sid came along.

Fortunately for me, the NHL and Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby has performed up to the standards that have been attached to him since he was 15. Two years ago, some may argue that Ben Roethlishberger can be given credit, but look who’s laughing now. While “Big Ben” is getting caught in Georgia with his fly down, Crosby is making a mark on the game that has been unseen for years. The face of the NHL single-handedly gave the league the respect and recognition it’s lacked since Wayne Gretzky was skating circles around the heavy-footed defensemen of the ‘80s and ‘90s.

What makes the superstar so valuable and unique? Not only does Crosby shock people with his remarkable play on the ice, he’s the standard of how superstars should act off the ice as well. In the NBA, NFL and MLB, athletes are constantly being arrested or caught embarrassing their sport with foolish acts (see: Big Ben). These sports consistently have problems with players throwing bottles at strippers or sex boat scandals. Even stars like Dwayne Wade are having problems. The Miami Heat star is being sued by his ex-wife for “fooling around” with his actress girlfriend on the living room couch in front of his kids. It’s despicable.

While these players are slipping up time-and-time again, hockey players fly under the radar with the high-tempo game that the NHL has become.

Pittsburgh isn’t the only city that has fans coming out of the woodwork due to new found success. The San Jose Sharks are facing the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semi-finals. Red Wings fans have been throwing dead octopi on the ice for years; a tradition that has gone unmatched around the league until three Sharks fans trumped the Detroit faithful. These die-hard fans are throwing dead sharks on the ice with octopi tied into their mouths. If that doesn’t show how insane hockey fans are, then I don’t know what does?

As a hockey fan, seeing people jump on the bandwagon is annoying to say the least. Why should they be able to become a fan overnight and see a championship when I’ve been waiting 16 years? Well, that’s the nature of sports. As much as I hate to see the nauseating “Go Penguins” Facebook statuses, hockey needs these confused people to get back to the respect it deserves.

So to all of you who parade around with your Sidney Crosby shirts, keep on doing it. I’ll shake my head at you in disgust, but seeing the game of hockey getting recognized for once is worth it.

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at .