I was listening this morning, as I often do, to Justin Bourne and Rob Pizzo discussing the events of this past Sunday on their thoroughly entertaining podcast. Both of them agreed that while many of the individual incidents were unfortunate, they enjoyed the game as a whole. The word that kept popping up was "passion". Justin even joked that they had probably used the word "passion" thirty times on the podcast.
Here’s the problem: I didn’t see any passion in that game from the Penguins. I saw several petulant brats following the lead of their Captain, who has for me finally earned the nickname "Sidney Crybaby". Crosby’s interview after the game said it all. His actions were driven not by passion, but by the fact that "I don’t like any guy on their team".
To me, passion is noble. Passion is selfless. Passion is courageous. The Penguins were entitled, selfish and cowardly. They put their personal grievances over the cause of the team. To call their play passionate is to do a disservice to the word.
Passion is Bob Baun scoring the Cup winning overtime goal on a broken leg.
Passion is Mats Sundin skating the length of the ice, oblivious to Bryan Smolinski futilely clutching at him the whole way, to ice a huge playoff win.
I did not see anything resembling passion from James Neal, Arron Asham, Craig Adams or Sidney Crosby. What I saw was more akin to a series of tantrums from spoiled brats who were not getting what they wanted and had no idea how to cope with it.
I’ll close with a final example from Leafs’ history, this time a painful one. The last Leafs playoff game was against the Penguins’ current opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers, in 2004. I was at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs had tied the game late in the third period to stave off elimination. The crowd was going insane. Seven minutes into overtime Darcy Tucker annihilated Sami Kapanen with a clean but devastating hit. With the benefit of what we now know about concussions it is a terrifying collision. Kapanen barely got to the bench, falling several times along the way.
What did the Flyers do? Did they immediately take a run at Tucker to make him pay for the hit? That is the "passionate" thing to do, right? Would that they had. Instead, not 30 seconds later, Jeremy F’ing Roenick buried the overtime winner.