PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby rarely turns down an interview request, and the 18-year-old rookie phenom is always polite and accommodating with the media.
But constant questions about being a marked man in the NHL has made him a bit agitated.
"I think it's kind of getting old talking about it, to be
honest with you," Crosby said of an alleged slight against him by
officials and opponents. "It's something where we just have to
play hockey and not worry about the officials, who we have total
Crosby was at the center of another controversy Tuesday night after receiving an apparent knee-on-knee hit from Ottawa defenesman Andrej Meszaros late in the Senators' 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Crosby didn't know what to make of the hit, but it was a heavy topic of conversation among his teammates.
Winger Tomas Surovy, who is not known for his physical play, immediately attacked Meszaros and received a fighting major.
"It's good to see guys sticking up for one another,"
Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "Everyone gets along in
this room, and if you see one of our guys take a cheap shot, we
will go after him."
Now a team with a dearth of veterans and the worst record in the league, the young Penguins are at least developing a chemistry together, said Michel Therrien, who took over as coach in December.
"I've been saying for the past two months that I could see the team sticking together more," Therrien said. "We're going in the
right direction with this team and that's part of it. I like the
atmosphere with the team. The team spirit is there."
Crosby, the first-overall pick in last year's draft, is third on the team with 94 penalty minutes. He has been penalized several times for arguing with officials, developing a reputation -- deserved or not -- as a whiner.
Opponents have also accused him of diving.
"He's going to be targeted just with who he is," Orpik said.
"You have to earn the respect of your peers around the league when
you're that young. He's done a great job with it, but I think
anyone in his position at that age would get frustrated at times.
He's only going to learn from it."