Crosby: I meant no offense to Wings

Updated: June 14, 2009, 8:16 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby isn't apologizing for unintentionally failing to shake hands with some Detroit players after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, saying he didn't realize the Red Wings were leaving the ice before he joined the handshake line.

During a chaotic postgame scene on the crowded Joe Louis Arena ice following Pittsburgh's 2-1 victory on Friday, Crosby was ushered to several live TV interviews by NHL personnel, hugged some teammates and was handed the Stanley Cup by commissioner Gary Bettman.

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Crosby was celebrating when Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, alternate captain Kris Draper and some other key Red Wings players went to their dressing room. Crosby estimates he shook hands with about half the team, including goalie Chris Osgood and coach Mike Babcock, who congratulated him on his leadership ability.

That wasn't enough to satisfy Draper, who told The Associated Press that "Nick was waiting and waiting, and Crosby didn't come over to shake his hand. That's ridiculous, especially as their captain, and make sure you write that I said that!"

Crosby finds any suggestion that he would intentionally avoid shaking hands nonsensical, saying, "It's the easiest thing in the world to shake hands after you win."

After losing is different, as the Penguins experienced a year ago against Detroit, so Crosby understands why some Red Wings players quickly shook hands and left before the Penguins' postgame celebration began.

"I really don't need to talk to anyone from Detroit about it," Crosby said Sunday. "I made the attempt to go shake hands. I've been on that side of things, too, I know it's not easy, waiting around. I just won the Stanley Cup, and I think I have the right to celebrate with my teammates.

"On their side of things, I understand if they don't want to wait around."

At 21, Crosby is the youngest captain to win a Stanley Cup, but he routinely shows an understanding of NHL traditions and it would be out of character for him to snub any such ritual.

"I had no intentions of trying to skip guys and not shake their hands," Crosby said. "I think that was a pretty unreasonable comment. The guys I shook their hands with, they realized I made the attempt. If I could shake half their team's hands, I'm sure the other half wasn't too far behind. I don't know what happened there.

"I have no regrets. I've been on both sides of it, and it's not fun being on the losing end. But it doesn't change anything. You still shake hands no matter what."

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.

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.

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."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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