Nova Scotia·Q&A

How Sidney Crosby got the last laugh on a New York heckler

New York Rangers fan Nick Lipeika tells CBC News how after heckling Sid the Kid, the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar ended up giving him a signed stick after a game Wednesday night.

Rangers fan/heckler Nick Lipeika tells CBC how Crosby handled his quips with class

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (30) celebrates with Sidney Crosby (87) after the Penguins defeated the New York Rangers 7-2 in an NHL game Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (The Associated Press)

It's a proud sports tradition to heckle the opposing team's players in the hope that it will throw them off their games, but the players don't usually end up winning the fans over.

For New York Rangers fan Nick Lipeika, he had his chance to heckle Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby at Wedesday night's game at Madison Square Garden when the pride of Cole Harbour, N.S., drew a penalty. Lipeika's seats were behind the sin bin.

Lipeika told CBC Radio's Mainstreet what happened. This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

What happened?

There was a play right in front of us. He got called for tripping and he comes in the box and you want to do what every good hockey fan does when the best opposing player is in there and we kind of wanted to tee off a little on him.

We wanted to keep everything clean, you know, we didn't want to interfere with anyone's fun or say things that no one would have wanted to hear … we just wanted to get in his head a little bit.

You've been described as a proud heckler and a prepared one, so what did you say?

I just tried to hit him with things he'd never heard before, something that would almost make him laugh, just kind of giggle, so I used [Evgeni] Malkin being a great player in his own right and wanted to get in his head a bit. I just kind of used his skills against Crosby and said things like, 'Malkin would have more [Stanley] Cups if he had a better supporting cast around him.'

One of the things you said apparently was, 'Hey, Crosby! You were voted third toughest Canadian behind Céline Dion and a close second to Avril Lavigne.'

Yeah, just to razz him a little bit, just to get him thinking. When I said that, someone was saying he got a decent chuckle out of it. I got as much as I could get in there in the two minutes.

Again, it was all clean, good-hearted fun and he got a kick out of it and he proceeded to get his fun in on the ice when he scored a goal and got an assist. He definitely had one up on us at that point and the game was kind of a runaway.

And then after the game, you somehow ended up getting a stick from him.

We were just waiting for the crowd to dissipate and we were hanging out and a trainer from the Penguins came across and he had a stick in his hand. I just figured there was some Pittsburgh fan behind me he was going to hand it to. As the trainer reached over the boards, I didn't even reach for the stick. People reached over and the trainer ended up pulling it back and he kind of knocked on the glass and said, 'This is for you.'

I could see something was written on it and as he came into the penalty box and handed it to me, I read the quote of 'Good chirps take it easy on me next time!' and the Crosby signature. It was good to know he had a great sense of humour.

To be the type of player he is and such an ambassador for the sport, to know that he is a real human and has a great sense of humour and can take a joke, it was awesome. I was not expecting that.

So, are you a Penguins fan now or are you sticking with the Rangers?

I'm gonna stick with the Rangers, but I am a definite Sidney Crosby fan with just the way he handled it and how he handles himself off the ice.

With files from CBC's Mainstreet