To Shake Hands or Not to Shake Hands? Why is This Even a Question?

The NHL may not have a handshake ‘rule,’ but it has become tradition after every playoff series comes to an end and for the last few years after the Winter Classic.

Well, not this year.

According to some it is OK that it was blown off by the Pittsburgh Penguins this year because it is not a regular-game rule. Why should showing good sportsmanship be a rule? Shouldn’t you just be a good sport? Isn’t that part of why you get paid to be a professional?

As for Sidney Crosby:

Do you not think you’re a role model? You are. You are the captain. As captain of your team, you are the leader – the one that your team is supposed to look up to, so of course kids are looking up to you. You take all these endorsement deals — why do you think you get them? Because you’re a role model, and the impressionable audience is supposed to relate to you and want to purchase these items.

What do you think blowing off the most basic of sportsmanship rituals does? It brings about a lack of respect for you. How hard is it to shake someone’s hand? Even if you hate someone, you can still show respect to him or her.

I remember the 2009 Cup Finals when the Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings, and everyone wanted to defend you saying you were young and that you were caught up in the moment of winning the cup. Saying that you forgot to shake Nicklas Lidstrom’s hand – well Jonathan Toews didn’t forget the handshake line in 2010 when the Chicago Blackhawks won the cup; and he was even younger than you were.

Now here it is Jan 1, 2011, and you have blatantly disrespected not only the Capitals and their captain Alex Ovechkin by not participating in the hand shake; but you have disrespected the league — and the fans. Most of all, you’ve done wrong by the kids that look up to you. Do they necessarily know what you did? No. But you know what they will not have? That awe-inspired “this is a true athlete, this is who I want to be” feeling. You have been quoted many times about your respect for Steve Yzerman and how he was your idol, yet you have missed out on the biggest lessons he taught to so many.

Respect. Class. Humility. Sportsmanship.

Edit: Toews was the third youngest to win the cup but the youngest to join the Triple Gold Club.

Monica McAlister
An avid hockey lover that grew up in Michigan and lived in the Washington D.C. area while going school for Sports Management. Volunteer with the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA); and follows as much SM-liiga and Elitserien as possible along with the vast array of North American leagues.

24 Comments

  1. Common sense says:

    The bottom line is that every NHL game, regular season and playoffs, should end with the teams shaking hands. It’s ridiculous to talk about a lack of respect between players, or kids learning bad habits from NHLers without mentioning this. Every minor hockey league in north America has handshakes after the game, why can’t the big boys do it too?? Get off your high horse, it takes 30 seconds and adds so much to the game.

  2. If you are going to bach Sidney Crosby, bash Ovechkin too. Who has the Gold medal, Stanley Cup and respect of many? Not the guy who celebrated like it was Game 7.

    • The thing is ovechkin has the respect of the rest of the NHL and crosby doesn’t. In a survey of all the NHL players, 50+ % voted Crosby as the biggest whiner. Nobody respects a crybaby.

  3. Steve Kendall says:

    I don’t agree that Crosby is a punk in any way. I have had limited interaction with him, but know a lot of people who see him on a daily basis and they tell me he handles himself with dignity at all times. I’m not sure why this handshake thing has been such an issue as teams never shake hands during regular season games. It didn’t seem like the Caps were bothered by it (or even wanted to shake hands), so I’m not sure why it’s on the Penguins to initiate a handshake.

    You can show class and sportsmanship in ways other than shaking hands. Just because Kris Draper and Claude Lemieux shook hands in 1997 doesn’t mean Lemieux is a classy, sportsmanlike guy, does it?

    I think Crosby is the target of too much criticism simply because he has earned his spot as the face of the NHL: Stanley Cup champion, captain, community service,one of the top scorers every year. Maybe he should have initiated a handshake, but in the end, not doing so does not make him a pnk in my opinion.

  4. Hockeynutatlarge says:

    So, all of these posts by pro-Sid fans, have any of you actually stepped back and taken a hard look at the sport you claim to be a fan of? Hockey isn’t about paychecks, it’s not about glam, it’s sure as hell not about some media developed poster boy. Hockey IS about sport, moreso than any other game out there. From a very early age, we’re taught sportsmanship on the ice, how to game on the ICE, but at that final second ticks off, the game is no more, it’s about celebrating, welcoming your opponent for being your opponent and ultimately, sharing your love of Hockey with those around you.

    As far back as I can remember, Hockey has always represented giving it your all, and when it was all said and done, being proud and holding your head high win OR lose. Allowing these modern day “low class trash” players to ruin this great sport is a travesity, if you want that kind of behavior, the lack of class, the promotion of individuality, go watch basketball, it’s loaded with low class individuals who put themselves ahead of their team and the sport as a whole.

    So, for what it’s worth, it doesn’t matter if the hand shakes at WC have only happened for 2 years, what should matter is it’s a great way to showcase hockey as being about class and sportsmanship and that hockey is not about some whiny ass kid who is only capable of being a good sport when things are rolling his way, end this farse of a poster child, teach him some humility.

  5. While the coverage of the Winter Classic this year was generally very poor (i.e. blimp shots that weren’t zoomed to the ice, cable cam operator that couldn’t steer the camera, etc.) the end of the game was no less disappointing. However, from the shots of the ice that NBC did show, the Penguins were standing around on the ice seemingly waiting for the post-game handshake line to commence. While they were waiting for the Capitals to stop celebrating like they had just won the Stanley Cup rather than a regular season game, the cameras did catch Ovechkin and co. jumping around and celebrating like fools rather than the typical congratulations for the goalie and high-fives for teammates.

    Did the writer happen to catch the amount of time Crosby and company spent visiting with the kids at Children’s Hospital passing out gifts, taking pictures with families, or showing up at the community rink with the fans to watch the junior hockey games that were taking place? None of these activities were because of endorsement deals, sponsorships, or because the players received money for them. Those activities show a great deal of respect by Crosby and his teammates for the position that they have been given not only in the City of Pittsburgh but in the NHL community.

    Without having the opportunity to read previous columns from this writer, it seems as though she might still be smarting from Crosby’s supposed “snub” of Lidstrom 18 months ago, or the usual defeats the Capitals suffer to the Penguins.

  6. And a tiny picky thing – wasn’t Toews actually older when Chicago won the Cup than Crosby was when the Pens won, not younger as you’ve written?

    It’s not the best effort to make your argument solid if facts you’ve used as examples aren’t actually true, so I’m siding with Crosby on this one.

  7. @Stoosh: Actually, NBC did mention it, but they made excuses for the Penguins by saying they didn’t line up for handshakes because, and I quote, “They just didn’t feel like it.” Direct quote, check the broadcast.

  8. Excellent article, and yes, as far as I can recall, the losers in most events are the ones to line up first for handshakes.

    Here’s the reason Crosby gets the flack: Bettman and a few others have decided that he is the “face of the NHL”. being the annointed prince comes with some responsibilities.

  9. This is a regular season game. Granted, it’s a high-profile “event” game, but it’s still a regular season game. They don’t shake hands in any other regular season game.

    And as far as this alleged “tradition” of shaking hands in the Winter Classic, it’s only been done twice – after the Det-Chi game and then last year. Are two successive years enough to make it a “tradition”? If so, it was such a slap in the face to the “tradition” that not one NBC announcer saw fit to mention it, and I don’t recall anyone on the CBC broadcast particularly in a fit over it either. Some “tradition”.

    And why isn’t anyone pointing out that Ovechkin didn’t exactly rush to center ice to start a handshake line, either? Where’s the feigned outrage over that?

    Or is only such feigned outrage reserved for Crosby?

    Both teams gathered on the ice to acknowledge the crowd, and then skated off. That was plenty. End of story.

  10. Good to see all the Sid-bashers out there have found a place to congregate. Please continue to keep yourselves centrally located so it’s easier to avoid your half-baked theories about “Sid the Punk.”

    The reason the Caps celebrated like they’d just won the Cup and the Pens skated back to their locker room is rooted in the personalities of both teams, not Sid’s as an individual. For the Caps this was Game 7, a Gold Medal, and the future of Western civilization all wrapped into 60 minutes. What that says for the rest of their season I think is interesting. (How does Brucie Wingsauce keep his boys motivated now that they’ve gone to the dragon’s lair and slayed him?)

    For the Penguins this was a special atmosphere, yes. Other than that though, it was simply Game 40. They lost, and so they did what they do after every other regular season game: They went back to their room. Will all of you chastise every NHL team that goes back to their room after a regular season game without shaking hands?

    No. Instead, you’ll look for reasons to hate Crosby & the Pens. You’ll continue to cook up reasons to portray him as a “punk.” You’ll ignore the fact that Crosby IS the kind of role model you claim he isn’t. You’ll ignore the season tickets he delivers by hand, the pediatric cardiac ward he visited Christmas Eve, and the hundreds of other things he does for fans that few people have any idea of.

    Where was Ovechkin on Christmas Eve? Clubbing with a Russian supermodel? Where was Toews on Christmas Eve? Perhaps bailing out Patrick Kane after beating a cabbie who was short on change? Where was Mike Richards on Christmas Eve? Mediating a dispute between teammates who were sleeping with each others’ wives?

    Yeah, there are your role models. There’s your respect, class, humility, & sportsmanship.

    • Mike Colligan says:

      Good points Chris.

      The debate should be about whether the handshake should’ve occurred or not…not whether Crosby is a punk or a stand-up citizen. If not initiating a handshake between two teams in a regular season game is the worst thing that Crosby does this year (in the age of Woods and Favre) then I think that speaks volumes to his character, even amidst lofty standards.

      A 25-game point streak only made the target on Crosby’s back even bigger – on and off the ice.

      Off the ice…I vaguely remember people being all worked up because Crosby didn’t appear on a late-night talk show a few seasons ago at playoff time. It’s inevitable that no matter what he does and no matter how high he sets the bar for himself, there will always be people out there waiting to jump on him in any instance he doesn’t live up to those standards.

      On the ice…it’s tough to say what really happened with the David Steckel blindside hit in the WC, but you can be sure it probably won’t be the last time Crosby gets nailed like that. At some point, Crosby will frustrate an opponent to the point where they’ll do anything to keep him from beating them.

      His words will always be twisted and his actions always scrutinized – I guess it comes with the territory, but calling an athlete (that none of us know personally) a “punk” over this is going a bit too far.

  11. Zarley Zalapski says:

    LOL what a joke. Toews wasn’t surrounded like Crosby was after winning the cup. He couldn’t get to the handshake line. There is a big difference between winning the Cup and winning a college game. Good luck with your career if you are going to dwell on things like this. Doing something for 2 years is hardly a tradition, but you decided to use it to call out Crosby in typical hater fashion. How about calling out Erskine for blatantly slashing Malkin at the end of the game for no reason then backing down from Engelland?

  12. Mike Colligan says:

    Interesting discussion. I honestly didn’t even notice the lack of handshake. I wasn’t a fan of the lack of handshake in the Detroit playoff series by Crosby, but this one I am fine with.

    For those that do feel it’s very important, what are the responsibilities of the other 39 players on the ice?

    If you argue it’s Crosby’s role as captain (and as a superstar) to initiate the handshake, why no mention of Alex Ovechkin in any of this?

    • Watching it on TV they didn’t show a ton of coverage right then. They showed the Capitals on ice celebrating and then cut to the Penguins standing there watching – then leaving the ice.

      I could be wrong but doesn’t the losing team usually line up while the winning team finishes their win and then they join the line up? Back to 2009 the Red Wings were lined up waiting at center ice while the Pens celebrated and Crosby never came. When I was at the GLI last week Colorado College lined up while Univeristy of Michigan had a quick celebration with their goalie before they lined up for the hand shake line.

  13. Much rending of garments over nothing. Regular season game. Feh.

  14. Tiago Cardoso says:

    Sidney “Protected” Crosby is the most spoiled brat in the hockey world of all time!

    The Canadian Media applauds!

    But don’t acknowledge that Penguins and Team Canada has a great support team/ superstar lineup for him!

    So, it´s easy win!

    *************************

    Capitals-Penguins is inarguably the greatest NHL rivalry today!

    Every game is a battle!

    NHL have Division Championship,
    Conference Championship,
    Stanley Cup Championship and
    since 2005-2006 season the CAPS-PENS Championship!

    The yesterday’s game was a further proof!

    Watch out for that:

    10/16/2008 Capitals 4 @ 3 Penguins
    01/14/2009 Capitals 6 @ 3 Penguins
    02/22/2009 Penguins 2 @ 5 Capitals
    03/08/2009 Penguins 4 SO @ 3 Capitals
    01/21/2010 Capitals 6 @ 3 Penguins
    02/07/2010 Penguins 4 @ 5 OT Capitals
    03/24/2010 Penguins 3 @ 4 SO Capitals
    04/06/2010 Capitals 6 @ 3 Penguins
    12/23/2010 Penguins 3 SO @ 2 Capitals
    01/01/2011 Capitals 3 @ 1 Penguins [NHL Winter Classic]

    Final Result in the last 10 regular season games:

    Remarkable Record for Washington Capitals 8-0-2 against Pittsburg Penguins!

    8 wins and just 2 shootout losses!

    Astounding!

    Breathtaking!

    • The Pens/Flyers rivalry is much more intense and a better watch. You forgot in your boasting of regular season wins the playoff knockout. So what is that now, 8 of 9 for the Penguins? Doesn’t really seem like a rivalry. Come back at me when you have won something.

  15. You said it all with your comments on how Crosby is a role model and needs to act like one. Whether he wants to be or not, kids all across North America look up to him because of his hockey talent. To act so unsportsmanlike on national television is absolutely appalling. Not only did I catch the skipped handshake, I actually turned to my dad and said “I can not believe they just did that.”

    How this disrespectful punk became the face of the NHL, I may never know. But even if he doesn’t have respect for the opposing team, he needs to respect the integrity of the game.

  16. Well said, Monica. The post-game handshake is just common courtesy. Hard to believe that Sidney Crosby is billed as the spokesperson for the entire HNL. His lack of manners is just plain rude. The NHL needs a gentleman to represent the league instead of this punk the media is idolizing. As I stated after the Winter Classic 2011 game, even the special hockey teams know enough to shake hands after a game. It is a tradition of respect and a display of sportsmanship that speaks volumes. http://www.morcstars.com

  17. I totally agree with that. I was upset seeing that tradition broken and by seeing the person who the league is obviously trying to make their centerpiece act like such a child.

  18. Very convincing, and as somebody who dislikes Crosby a great deal I’m happy to pile on the reasons why. But I didn’t even notice the handshake was skipped. Or rather, I guess i just didn’t expect it.

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