Inquiring Minds: Was Crosby Noble In Dropping the Gloves After Huge Malkin Hit?

The setup: Last night during the Panthers huge 4-2 win over the Penguins Keith Ballard laid an even huger (and clean) hip check on Pittsburgh star Evgeni Malkin, sending him tumbling head-over-heels and wondering just where the hell that truck came from. Then, as often happens when someone gets wallpapered (clean hit or not), in comes said paper’s teammate to, I don’t know, exact some sort of pseudo-revenge.

Enter Sidney Crosby.


Now here’s my two-part question to you fine folks: Was there any inherent nobility in Crosby’s “fight” with Ballard and why, for the love of Christ, do the players think that every bit of contact on the ice warrants some kind of retaliation?

Has the game we all know and love sunk to new depths where even a clean hit is taken as some kind of affront? I mean if you want to compare apples and oranges here the hit on Malkin could have been a lot worse. If you watch close Malkin did have his head down, and if Ballard really wanted to put the hurt on him he could have done it.

I totally understand trying to protect your star players, but to me going after a guy because he knocked your teammate on his ass is just plain silly. Get his number, lie in wait and return the favor later.

Or don’t and just accept the fact that your teammate should have known better and the hit served as a jarring reminder.

Crazy as that might sound.

  • I Like Crosby

    Whoever is outraged at Captain Crosby here doesn’t watch enough hockey. Fools.

  • Schrembs

    Clip? Really? I know we don’t see them much anymore, but it looked like a hip check to me. A rarity in today’s game; more of an art than anything. A hip check is the best looking hit a hockey player can deliver. Plus it’s legal.

    Ballard was doing his job; Crosby responded. It’s not a question of legality. It’s hockey. I’m sure it’s a natural reaction for a teammate to take offense to a hit like that. Look at that hit Campbell had on Umberger a couple years back. It was a textbook open ice hit, but it wouldn’t be hockey if there wasn’t a scrum afterwards.

  • Brian M.

    The hit was an illegal clip. Crosby was defending his teammate.

    Rule 45 – Clipping

    45.1 Clipping – Clipping is the act of throwing the body, from any direction, across or below the knees of an opponent.

    A player or goalkeeper may not deliver a check in a “clipping” manner, nor lower his own body position to deliver a check on or below an opponent’s knees.

    An illegal “low hit” is a check that is delivered by a player or goalkeeper who may or may not have both skates on the ice, with his sole intent to check the opponent in the area of his knees. A player or goalkeeper may not lower his body position to deliver a check to an opponent’s knees.

    45.2 Minor Penalty – A player or goalkeeper who commits these fouls will be assessed a minor penalty for “clipping.”

    45.3 Major Penalty – If an injury occurs as a result of this “clipping” check, the player or goalkeeper must be assessed a major penalty (see 45.5).

    45.4 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player or goalkeeper attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by clipping.

    45.5 Game Misconduct Penalty – A game misconduct penalty must be assessed anytime a major penalty is applied for injuring an opponent by clipping.

    45.6 Fines and Suspensions – There are no specified fines or suspensions for clipping, however, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule 29).

  • Chad Carter

    The difference is the unsportsmanlike was called because Crosby skated acrossed the ice to get to Ballard. Was not an instigator because Ballard dropped the gloves. Honestly it should have been just 5 mins fighting for both. This same things happens in probably 1 out of every 3 games but I do not see this many articles about it any other time. If Crosby does not engage Ballard then he is a weak captain but when he does then everyone has a problem with it. So it is a no win situation for him.

  • Karl Selvig

    Sorry, Matt. I didn’t watch the video. I watched the game, as I have for the other 78 Panthers games this year. My point was that I don’t understand the additional 2 minute “unsportsmanlike” penalty. Yes, Ballard dropped his gloves first, because after a big hit like that, someone is usually coming to get payback. Crosby was coming at him, he dropped his gloves. I didn’t think an instigator was warranted. But then what was the “unsportsman like” penalty for? I certainly didn’t see anything more. But had it been an instigator, plus a fighting, an automatic 10 minute misconduct would have been assessed as well (that’s the rule…) So my question was why unsportsmanlike, not instigating? What’s the difference?

  • Paul Benvin

    Intention to hurt? I want some of what you’re smoking pal.

  • Jared

    I’m a big Pens fan. It was a clean hit; a beautiful one actually. But this is definitely a problem with the NHL as a whole. Never before have their been so many retaliatory attacks made after so many clean checks were finished, but then again the “new” NHL discourages fighting. Old Time Hockey is slowly weaning out of the game, in the Old Days, everyone fought.

    I think what Sid did was noble, but he really needs to stop fighting. Not only can we not afford to have him out of the line up and get hurt, but I’m fearing he may drop the mits and bite off more than he can chew.

  • Jon

    Doesn’t matter if it was clean, the intention there was to hurt. Sid did a very respectable, leader type of thing. Ballard also thought the same. Whatever though…

    The Sid obsession goes on… and on…It’s sad people can’t just sit and watch the team they like without making hockey a huge debate all of the time… I don’t see the pleasure anyone gets out of it. What sad human beings.
    Good Day*

  • Trevor Eisenhuth

    First off, the hit was clean. Second, go to youtube and look up the video. Sidney didn’t drop the gloves first, Ballard dropped his gloves when Sidney looked at him, then Sid dropped his gloves and they fought. Sid did not deserve an instigator penalty.

  • Christopher Ralph

    What happened to the good ole days when after a clean hit, either or both the guy hitting hit and his teammates “took the guy’s” number, and then proceed to return the favour.
    As others have mentioned the league should be watching this closely as it could easily lead to a slipery slope…

  • Jpuck

    It’s easy for us to sit back and judge after getting to see the replay from multiple angles, but out there on the ice you see one quick hit. So, you either retaliate or let a hit go. Frankly, as fans we have no room to question a decision like that. We are not on the ice.

  • matt

    Karl, his name didn’t have anything to do with not getting the instigator penalty. the fact that ballard dropped the gloves first has to do with it. do you know the rules? did you even watch the video?

  • Chris Hoeler

    Absolutely clean hit on Ballard’s part and its a shame that it has to go to a fight. If someone went after your star player, you went after theirs, thats the way it used to be. Wish it could stay at that but either way is fine…it was nice to see Crosby’s face become a punching bag for Ballard. Wish Phoenix had kept him.

  • Pittsburgh Penguins

    That hit changed the momentum of the game – the Pens were forcing the issue everywhere on the ice until that hit. After that, it seemed like the Pens said ” Well, we responded to the check, so we can mail it in now”

  • Rick Moldovanyi

    ”I expected someone to come; I didn’t know who it would be… He’s their captain, and he understands that no matter who it is, you have to do something. He’s an intense player, competitive. At that point of the game, that was pretty much the right thing to do.”
    — Keith Ballard

    Keith Ballad says Crosby’s action were “pretty much the right thing to do.”
    Discussion over?

  • Rick Gethin

    If you check the replay, Malkin jumped up at the time of the hit. That could possibly explain why it looks so low. And “name” or not, Crosby should have been assessed an “Instigator”.

  • Rick Moldovanyi

    You’re right Bruce, in general there are too many scraps after big hits.

    And this hit was clean, but it was close to being questionable.

    I’m glad to see Sid stick up for one of his team mates.

  • Paul Benvin

    Rick, I don’t hate Crosby. Far from it. He’s one of the elite players in the league, and to me that in itself is enough to earn respect.

  • Bruce Hollingdrake

    It’s not just this incident though – I’m speaking about the big trend this year in unwarranted retaliations. Good point about Crosby’s potential perspective though Rick/

  • Rick Moldovanyi

    Come on guys… Crosby hate aside, the hit was pretty low.
    It was at Malkin’s knees.
    Was it clean? Yes, but it was borderline.
    Crosby didn’t have the ability to check the replay before going after Ballard.
    He saw what he thought was a low hit and went to avenge it.
    Case closed.

  • Bruce Hollingdrake

    I’m not sure why this has evolved over the last couple of seasons. I completely agree with Paul’s assessment and most of the other comments. Since when does a clean hit warrant retaliation. This could have long term repercussions and needs to be dealt with soon. An extra misconduct if the ref deems the retaliation unwarranted (I’m pretty sure there is room in the rule book to cover this) – at a minimum.
    As Paul said, in the old days you just took down the guy’s number.
    – Now with current league management (not that is was ever really that much better in the past), they will take years before addressing this.
    It’s not noble to start a fight after a clean hit – it’s just sour grapes.

  • Paul Benvin


    Ballard is 5’11, so any time he gets set for a hip check it’s going to come in lower than, say, a guy of Chara’s stature (or Nicklas Lidstrom, who is 6-foot-1). Add to that the fact that most forwards he comes into contact with are going to tower over him and you have what can be misinterpreted as a low hit. Malkin, for the record, is 6-foot-3. Hartnell, 6-foot-2. McCormick? 6-foot-3.

  • Karl Selvig

    Oh, and just to add on some detail, Crosby did get an additional 2 minute unsportsmanlike penalty plus the 5 minute. Note; he got “unsportsmanlike.” He did NOT get an instigator penalty, which carries with it an additional 10 minute misconduct. Think his name had anything to do with that?

  • Brad McBrair


    I completely agree with your article. There is nothing worse that seeing a guy get laid out from a clean hit and then some joker takes offense. Hockey is a contact sport. Better yet, it’s a collision sport. If the sight of seeing a teammate take a hard, clean hit is unbearable then move on to MMA. There is no room for that bs in hockey.

  • Mother Pucker Hockey


    I agree with you that he wanted to take the momentum away. It was a bold move for the kid, but I don’t believe that he would have just dropped them against anyone in that situation. Look at Marchment, one of the best hip checkers of all time. Had he laid out Malkin, think the little visor wearing one would have gone after him?

  • Karl Selvig

    You bet me too it Paul. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Keith Ballard has been delivering hip checks all year, and pretty much every time, someone else comes to the checked players “defense.” Add this one to the list…

    And this…

    Maybe guys are thinking Ballard is going for the knees because he comes in so low? Whatever the case, this is becoming far too prevalent in the NHL. Guys who deliver clean, hard hits have to be ready to defend themselves right away because someone is coming to get retribution. It’s hockey. You’re going to get hit. Get over it.

    BTW, Go Panthers. What a game. And that Ballard hit then fight brought that game to another level, and Florida answered. Great stuff.

  • Paul Benvin

    It’s a sad and pathetic state of affairs when “payback” is warranted on a clean hit my friend. And we would have been having this discussion if it was any other captain in the NHL just for that reason.

    Thanks for the spelling correction as well.

  • Rick Moldovanyi

    I think it was a good move.
    Was the hit clean? Yes.
    Was it questionable considering it was low? Yes.
    Was it on the league’s leading scorer? Yes.

    Crosby saw that one of the team’s stars went down. He wanted to show that there would be payback. He also wanted to take any momentum away from the Panthers.

    That’s what a leader does.

    If any other captain in the league had done the same thing we wouldn’t even be discussing this right now.

    Also, it’s “Sidney” not “Sydney.”