You can file this under "ESPN only makes a big deal about hockey when something negative happens."
Scott Burnside, the NHL commentator for ESPN who loves controversy more than most bloggers, has come up with another gem today entitled "Only 'failure' here is Lemieux's message." As you would expect from that title, it's a piece written to draw traffic to ESPN's website. The media has long ago realized that writing about the Penguins (in any capacity) will bring in the hits.
So you don't have to click that link, here's the highlights of Burnside's desperate attempts to make his column relevant by jumping on the "Hate the Penguins" bandwagon:
Goodness, Hall of Fame owner Mario Lemieux is a delicate flower, isn't he?
After hiding behind what must be a weighty cloak of self-righteousness and refusing to speak publicly for long months at a time about the game he professes to love so much -- bam! -- Lemieux emerged and dropped a bomb on the NHL's lap Sunday afternoon.
We must say, it helps to read all these bits aloud in a very deep, Zeus-like voice to get the full import of this great chiding from on high. It would all be great theater if it weren't so nauseatingly contrived.
Lemieux apparently didn't mind the state of the game so much when Matt Cooke, a player his Penguins signed to a new contract this past summer, put Marc Savard's career in jeopardy last season with a blindside check a thousand times worse than the one that recently felled Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby.
And Lemieux must have been too busy working on his short game last week to defend the game he loves when Cooke was suspended again, this time for four games, for drilling Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin headfirst into the boards.
Nope, Lemieux was pretty much silent on that one, too. Funny.
What a unique angle! The Pens employ Matt Cooke so they can't possibly have any sort of opinion on anything! That's like saying if you rob a bank you can't be against beating women. They're two different crimes. But we're sure glad Burnside thought of that point! We haven't heard it all over the Internet for days now! Wow... that's some hard-hitting journalism there! Bravo!
Of course, Burnside's been angry with Mario ever since he didn't speak to the media enough during the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Burnside is just upset that - without Mario Lemieux providing regular media interviews - journalists like himself actually have to do some work to find a story rather than taking a seat at a press conference, hitting "record" on a media player, zoning out for a while and regurgitating some quotes onto the web the later on. Guaranteed that if Lemieux came out after every game and spoke to the media Burnside would write a piece on how he's taking the spotlight from his players and it's time for him to move on.
Today Burnside is probably just upset because Lemieux's statement meant he needed to work on a Sunday.
Remember back in December when everyone respected Sidney Crosby and the Penguins? We're sure glad that's over. It's a lot more fun to play the heel and all of this hate gives Penguins fans something to rally around during this dark time of injuries and setbacks.