Florida's McLean claims Sidney Crosby is lying about their fight

After his "fight" with Brett McLean of the Florida Panthers yesterday, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby claimed that he and McLean had agreed to drop gloves following the faceoff: "We were talking early in the first period ... I asked him to go, he said 'yes'. Usually yes means yes. I wouldn't have wasted 20 minutes in the box for that ... I guess he didn't take me serious."

McLean admitted that Crosby said "something" prior to the draw, but denied there was any mutual approval for a fight. After the Panthers' 6-5 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens today, George Richards of the Miami Herald got some specifics out of McLean regarding the Crosby fight:

Did you discuss fighting him? "We had not, at any point. It was as surprising to me as it was to you guys."

Did you ever see it coming? "No I didn't."

Was Sidney jawing at you earlier in the game? "Before the face-off, like I told you yesterday, he was saying something but I didn't really hear it. I didn't know what he was saying, didn't really pay attention to it."

Did you ever say yes to him as he said? "No, I mean, I don't know where that came from."

McLean probably wouldn't be this chatty if No. 87 in your Penguins program hadn't bloodied him in a fight.

On the other hand, Crosby's comments do deserve a rebuttal.

Crosby came off a tad disingenuous, didn't he: The biggest offensive star in hockey, with one previous NHL fight to his credit, arbitrarily decides to drop the gloves with a random foe? When the media's floating the notion that McLean duped the golden boy into a fight, McLean deserves his say.

In this morning's three stars, Ross McKeon's attempt at rationalizing Crosby's decision was a good one: that the Penguins miss the character guys -- like Gary Roberts and Ryan Malone and Adam Hall and the rest of the Lightning -- who would step up with some physical inspiration last season.

But in a stinker at home against the Florida Panthers, and with his team in a tailspin ... well, it's like David Bowie said to Bret from Flight of the Conchords: Sometimes you just have to do something absolutely outrageous when the time is right.

And on Sunday, Jan. 4, we're not talking about the Penguins' 3-7-0 streak or the fact that they're under .500 at home or their 0-for-24 power play rut --we're comparing Crosby's fighting style to Alex Semin's bongo playing.

Sometimes star players have to be a lightning rod. And if a team needs a kick in the ass, we'll take the captain dropping his gloves out of frustration over a players'-only meeting any day. Let's see how the Penguins respond.

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