Sid­ney Crosby re­wards re­lent­less heck­ler with au­to­graphed stick

Valley Journal Advertiser - - COMMUNITY - BY NI­COLE MUNRO THE CHRON­I­CLE HER­ALD

Sid­ney Crosby was voted the third-tough­est Cana­dian be­hind Ce­line Dion and Avril Lav­i­gne — at least, ac­cord­ing to a New York Rangers fan.

That’s just one of the many chirps that earned Nick Lipeika a signed stick by the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins cap­tain af­ter a re­cent game at Madi­son Square Arena in New York City.

Michael Gross, a Rangers sea­son-ticket holder, was sit­ting next to the penalty box and a cou­ple of seats over from Lipeika and his bud­dies.

“The two of us were talk­ing be­fore­hand that we were go­ing to get in the heads of some­one,” Gross said in an in­ter­view Jan. 4.

So when Crosby drew a trip­ping penalty early in the first pe­riod, the Rangers fans went to town.

“As soon as he sat down, I kind of leaned into the crack of the glass and I said, ‘Hey Sid, Pierre doesn’t want you to have fun out there,’” re­called Gross.

The Cole Har­bour na­tive laughed and sprayed the glass with his wa­ter bot­tle.

“From that point it was like: all right he’s hav­ing fun, so we’re go­ing to have fun,” the life­long Rangers fan said.

Lipeika started heck­ling Crosby, with lines like, “When Ga­torade wanted a tough guy, Justin Bieber turned them down, so they set­tled for you.”

“But noth­ing mean, noth­ing you couldn’t say in front of your kids,” said Gross. “Just good qual­ity stuff.”

The chirps con­tin­ued for most of the game, but as Pitts­burgh kept putting them past Hen­rik Lundqvist, the Rangers fans lost steam. Crosby’s team ended up with the 7-2 win.

Near the end of the game, the Pitts­burgh cap­tain handed his stick to the trainer, but Gross said the guys didn’t think any­thing of it.

“But then the trainer’s walk­ing over with a signed stick at the end of the game and he hands it over to the two of us and his bud­dies,” said Gross.

“Good chirps. Take it easy on me next time!” read the stick signed by Crosby.

“I grabbed it and handed it to (Lipeika) and go, ‘Here you go man, well earned,’” he said.

Gross said the event changed his per­spec­tive on the Pitts­burgh cap­tain.

“I’m a life­long Rangers fan, so I was like tor­tured as a kid with the Pen­guins win­ning all those games and then all of a sud­den Crosby’s com­ing up and win­ning all those Cups, scor­ing all those goals against us,” Gross said. “You’re go­ing to hate the guy. You can’t help it.”

“But this shows the kind of dude he is, which is some­thing I didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate be­fore, but I do now,” he said.

MICHAEL GROSS

Sid­ney Crosby au­to­graphed a stick for a New York Rangers fan who chirped him dur­ing a re­cent game in New York.

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