Crosby on the Subban incident, Golden Goal, Johnson’s baseball brawl

Metropolitan Division's Sidney Crosby smiles during the NHL All-Star Game final. (Tony Avelar/AP)

Make no mistake, Sidney Crosby’s got stories.

Though the longtime face of the NHL has always seemed most unfettered when that face is hidden away behind a CCM helmet and visor, the Cole Harbour king’s 14-year career has seen no shortage of marquee moments — Stanley Cup runs, Olympic golds, and a fair few run-ins along the way.

Joining former teammates Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonnette on a new episode of the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, released Wednesday on No. 87’s 32nd birthday, Crosby shared some of his best stories from his decade-and-a-half in the game.

A few noteworthy tidbits:

1. Yes, Sid was irked by P.K. Subban’s mouthwash trolling

Back in 2017, Crosby and Subban were locked in a Stanley Cup Final showdown between the Penguins and Subban’s then-club, the Nashville Predators. The stars’ rivalry was famously taken from the ice to the locker room midway through the series when Subban dropped this to reporters after a game (a Preds win) in which he and the Penguins captain had exchanged some words:

“Usually when guys chirp after a game or during the game it’s usually about your game or something personal, but [Crosby] went on to tell me that my breath smelled bad, and I don’t know why, because I used Listerine before the game. So I thought my breath smelled great. I mean, at the end of the day we’re just going to take the win and move on.”

Soon after, Subban arrived at the arena on gameday hauling a bag of Listerine for all to see. Much was made of whether the off-ice tomfoolery helped spur Crosby and the Penguins on to their eventual series win.

The Penguins captain shared his side:

“Yeah, I was a little irritated by it,” Crosby said of Subban’s antics. “I mean, I think you could tell at the time when I was doing the interviews. It was just like the last thing I wanted to be talking about. But I mean, maybe that was part of it.

“They had just tied it 2-2 — we had won the first two and that was in Nashville. He had said something to Guentzy (Jake Guentzel) leaving the ice, and I just went to kind of get in the middle and try to break them up. He kind of kept saying stuff, and him and I went at it. Nothing was said even remotely close to that, but then to read that after, it was like, ‘Oh okay, I’m going to have to answer [questions] about this.’ It was more that. And then on top of that, he ended up taking Listerine, carrying a bottle of Listerine into the game or something. What are you going to do.”

“He still jokes about it — we were at the awards and he was still joking around about it. I mean, it is what it is. … That’s just mind games, it’s nothing. Me and him had some good run-ins throughout the whole series, I was playing a lot against him. I don’t have anything against him for that. I just was kind of annoyed that I had to answer about it.”

Crosby posted three points in the Penguins’ subsequent Game 5 win, before they claimed the series — and the Cup — in Game 6.

2. Penguins teammate Jack Johnson made Sid’s final baseball game a wild one

Prior to their reunion in Pittsburgh, Crosby and defender Jack Johnson played alongside each other during their dominant 2002-03 season for Shattuck-Saint Mary’s — Crosby had 162 points in 57 games that year, Johnson had 42 points in 48 games.

But their wildest moment together apparently came on the diamond, not on the ice, when Johnson started a mid-game brawl while the two were playing for Shattuck’s baseball team:

“That was crazy. That’s the last baseball game I ever played in,” Crosby said. “So, I was pitching and the other team was kind of chirping. That happened every game though, it was just fun, guys are going back and forth. [Johnson] gets up to bat, he starts saying stuff to their pitcher but the pitcher starts brushing him off. He kind of moves in a little closer, like kind of showing him, ‘Hey I don’t care if you’re brushing me off, I’m going to get tighter to the plate.’ So I’m on deck and I’m thinking, ‘This is not going to be good.’ You can tell, like, he’s going to charge the mound at any point.

“Sure enough, brushes another one back, he goes out there, he just starts beating the crap out of the pitcher. Like, within two punches that guy’s down. First baseman comes over, that guy’s down. Second baseman throws his glove at him. So he’s standing on the mound, two guys are down — I remember I ran, like hockey mentality, grabbed the catcher because I’m thinking he might blindside him. I’m like, ‘What just happened.’

“The athletic director came up to us after and said, ‘You guys are going to have to sit out the rest of the season.’”

Canada’s Sidney Crosby celebrates his game-winning goal during overtime period men’s ice hockey gold medal final at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

3. A drill from his younger days helped Sid score Canada’s Golden Goal

Though he’s amassed his fair share of NHL accomplishments, there are many for whom his finest moment came without a Penguins jersey in sight. Crosby’s gold medal-winning tally against Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver remains one of the Nova Scotia native’s most iconic memories.

Crosby reflected on the moments leading up to the golden goal:

“I remember the feeling I had when [Team USA’s Zach] Parise scored, that’s what I remember the most. I was sick to my stomach,” he said. “I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ This is, what was it a minute or under a minute he scored? And I remember, like ‘Oh my God.’ … And then we only had 30 seconds, so we come in the room still kind of like lingering. I remember Scott Niedermayer was so cool and calm. I don’t remember exactly what we said, but I mean, he was convinced we were going to win, judging by the way he was talking. I just remember, ‘Wow, this guy’s been through everything. We’re going to get this done.’ He had that quiet confidence.”

He also recalled how a drill from his younger days helped clinch the game for the red and white:

“It’s cool because I used to do this drill growing up, I remember, probably like 12-, 13-, 14-years-old. It was 10 pucks and you just shoot 10 into the net — the pucks were scattered all over the offensive zone, so you didn’t necessarily know where the net is sometimes. You’re just trying to get 10 pucks in as best time as you can, so you’ve got to score 10 goals on an empty net. It’s pretty hard because, once you get tired, you’re skating out to the blue line, turning, you’re firing, you miss, puck goes in the corner, you gotta go chase it down, it’s just annoying. It’s kind of like a bag skate at the end.

“But anyways, that drill used to get those bad angles all the time, and you don’t really look at the net a lot, you just kind of let it go. And it was just one of those things where that puck just kind of popped out and for whatever reason, I shot it. But it wasn’t a great angle — for whatever reason, I shot it, but most times you’d take that to the net, and I think that’s what Miller probably thought, I was going to take that to the net.

“Nine times out of 10 I probably don’t shoot that right away. It was just weird the way it worked out.”

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