NHL

Loss, Crosby's snub leave Red Wings with bitter taste

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The Canadian Press
6/13/2009 6:24:38 PM
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DETROIT - The Red Wings can accept that Pittsburgh is the Stanley Cup champion. Getting snubbed by Sidney Crosby is another matter.

After watching Pittsburgh hoist the Cup on Detroit's ice, the Red Wings lined up to shake hands with the Penguins as is custom in the NHL playoffs.

Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom was up front, followed by alternate captain Kris Draper, congratulating many of the new champions while waiting for Pittsburgh's captain.

"Nick was waiting and waiting, and Crosby didn't come over to shake his hand," Draper told an Associated Press reporter a couple hours later as he was leaving Joe Louis Arena.

"That's ridiculous, especially as their captain, and make sure you write that I said that!"

Crosby eventually skated over to shake hands with the Red Wings, but many had already headed for the dressing room. Detroit forward Johan Franzen and Crosby exchanged words and Crosby then shook hands with goaltender Chris Osgood and some other Detroit players.

The Penguins were unhappy with the accusation, especially since Crosby was photographed going through the line.

"Nobody respects the traditions of hockey more than Sidney Crosby," team vice president Tom McMillan said. "It was a young team celebrating its first Cup and some of the guys might have been a little late getting into the handshake line."

The losing team almost always leaves the ice quickly following an elimination loss, especially during the finals, and it was uncertain how long Lidstrom waited.

Pittsburgh didn't need Crosby to finish off the Red Wings, beating them 2-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals without the superstar healthy enough to play for the whole game.

Detroit was bitter about blowing 2-0 and 3-2 leads in the series, but the previous champions gave the Penguins their due.

"You've got to give them credit," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

Goaltender Chris Osgood agreed.

"We're not stunned," he said. "They had a good team."

The Red Wings were good, too, just not good enough to overcome hurt or misfiring stars in the finals.

They swept Columbus, survived a seven-game series against Anaheim and skated past Chicago in five games as MVP finalist Pavel Datsyuk missed several games with a foot injury and Marian Hossa scoring in just three games.

But the Red Wings couldn't hold on to hoist the Cup for the second straight year and fifth time in 12 seasons when Datsyuk was out early in the finals and Hossa mustered only three assists against his former teammates.

"Any time you win three games in a final, you have a chance," Babcock said. "We just didn't have enough to get it done.

"The guys that were injured on our team this year never got their game back to the level it could be. And they were significant players for us."

Hossa wasn't hurt.

He was just ineffective.

Hossa seemed to crumble in the spotlight after turning down a lucrative, long-term contract last summer to stay with the runner-up Penguins to take a one-season shot at the Cup with the defending champions.

Hossa is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent again, but he wasn't ready to talk about his plans.

"I can't think about that now," he said. "I'm sure we'll have some talks."

The Red Wings will have some interesting decisions to make this offseason because they probably can't keep Hossa along with key free agents such as Jiri Hudler, Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Kopecky and Ville Leino.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland answered some of the franchise's questions during the regular season by signing Henrik Zetterberg to a contract through the 2020-21 season and Franzen to an 11-year contract.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the deals, which are set up to pay the players much less toward the end of the contracts, don't circumvent the salary cap.

"The rules allow what the Red Wings have done," Bettman said during the playoffs. "But if I was running a team, which I'm not, I would opt for shorter-term contracts.

"If they keep doing it, some of the contracts will probably turn out to be great and some will lead to people scratching their heads."

Zetterberg likes his team's chances of competing for a championship next June and in the years to come.

"We still have a good team," Zetterberg said shortly after shaving his two-month thick beard. "It's going to make us stronger. We've got a great group of guys here that are going to be around for a number of years."

Kris Draper (Photo: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
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