Sidney Crosby was a nine-year-old minor hockey player in Cole Harbour, N.S. in 1996 when the National Hockey League adjusted the instigator rule, which was designed to curb fighting.
With players facing a two-minute minor, five-minute major and 10-minute misconduct for being a guilty party, statistics have shown that fighting has steadily decreased.
Almost 20 years later, Crosby is getting knocked around in these Stanley Cup playoffs and none of his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates are coming to his aid, a perturbed Don Cherry said during his Coach’s Corner segment on Monday night.
What player is going to step in for Sid the Kid and risk receiving an instigator penalty, thus putting his team at a disadvantage in the post-season?
“I’ve been in the game a long time and I’ve seen guys abused and hit and smacked, but nothing like this guy,” said Cherry of Crosby, who has one goal in 12 games in these playoffs.
“I know he brought it on himself a little bit but this is unbelievable. Nobody steps in, nobody tries to protect him. Nobody helps him at all. I mean, this guy’s a superstar, he’s the best player in the league.”
Cherry recalled how former Edmonton Oilers standout Wayne Gretzky “had a credit card” in the 1980s and could do anything on the ice because he had tough guys like Dave Semenko and Marty McSorley ready to drop the gloves and take on all-comers.
“Then the dumb-dumbs put in the instigator rule and there it is. The guy that everybody pays to see [Crosby] is knocked around and banged around,” said Cherry.
“It was [interim NHL president] Gil Stein and the dummy [NHL board of] governors that put [the rule] in.”
Watch Monday’s full segment in the video above. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Don?
Watch previous episodes of Coach's Corner here.
Follow Don Cherry on Twitter @CoachsCornerCBC.
Follow Ron MacLean on Twitter @RonMacLeanCBC.