Crosby skipping ‘Worlds’ really not that big a deal

You may have thought that with the Pittsburgh Penguins being knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday afternoon, you would have gotten a bit of a break from the Sidney Crosby media circus for a few months.
But as it turns out, you only had a reprieve for a couple of days.
Yesterday afternoon, it was announced by Crosby’s agent that his client had turned down an invitation to participate in the upcoming IIHF World Hockey Championships, which will be held in Finland and Sweden starting May 4.
Barely seconds after the news came out, the online world immediately began debating the decision by the Penguins’ captain and whether or not he was doing a disservice to his country by not accepting the invite.
While loyalty to one’s country is a bit of a thorny issue, and one I will attempt to touch in a little bit, I can understand to an extent why Crosby would decide not to participate.
Firstly, this is a player who had been out of action for nearly an entire year as a result of concussions he suffered back in January, 2011. Then he was sidelined for a couple more months earlier this season after another head injury.
So with that in mind, I can see why Crosby would want to take time off this summer to focus on his off-season training, which I’m sure is something you can’t do at all when you’re not 100 percent upstairs and not risk another chance of getting hurt again.
Secondly, while it’s always fun to watch our country compete against other international teams, the IIHF World Championships are pretty tiny on the sporting hemisphere on this side of the globe.
While this event is a huge deal in Europe, here in Canada I’m not fully convinced the general sports fan cares a lot about it, with many of the best players taking part in the Stanley Cup playoffs at this time of year.
Yes, it’s great that some of the most talented young players in this country, like John Tavares and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, are going to get a chance to show off their talents and possibly make an impression before the 2014 Winter Olympics.
But wouldn’t people rather see someone like a Claude Giroux or a Shea Weber take on the best in the world?
However, I’m sure the rest of the world feels that same level of indifference towards the world juniors during the Christmas holidays, so I guess it all depends what your own opinion is on this event.
All of that, though, leads me to the debate about whether Crosby is letting his country done by not playing at the world championships when he was invited, which I think is a stupid argument to make.
This is a player who has represented Canada at the world juniors, the world championships, and the Olympic Winter Games in the past, so I don’t think it’s an issue of Crosby not caring about Canada.
Plus, he scored the “Golden Goal” at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, which I think should give you a free pass to do whatever you want to do for the rest of your life.
Although I can see why people may think it’s a bit strange that players who already are established may not want to participate in a world championship, especially if you are from elsewhere.
A couple of years ago, I was explaining to a relative from England that a player would want to win the Stanley Cup more than anything in hockey, which he thought was really odd.
“Where I come from, even if you win your league soccer title, there is nothing bigger to achieve than winning the World Cup. Wouldn’t that be the biggest goal for a player in Canada in hockey?” he wondered.
Although I think that is starting to change a bit with the bigger emphasis on the Olympics involving professional players, I still think we have a long way to go until players feel differently.
But with that said, I don’t think we should be making a big deal out of who is on Team Canada or who is not in a few weeks’ time.
We should be cheering for our country and pushing them towards a gold medal no matter who is on the squad.

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