There are few athletes who have managed to both be likeable and the best in the world at their sport. The unbridled ambition and motivation that it takes to rise to the very peak of athletic stardom is incongruent with traits that we generally find likeable in others, such as a sense of humour, intelligence, a well-rounded personality, and humility. There are a few great athletes who seem to have these traits—Lionel Messi and Roger Federer come to mind—but they are rare. Athletes like Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Michael Jordan are examples of players who a lot of people hate either because of their arrogance, their misdeeds, or their volatility, even though they're also widely lauded for their athletic prowess.
Sidney Crosby kind of occupies the space between these two camps. He hasn't really had any large controversies on or off the ice, but he's generally unlikable. He complains a lot, and often makes cheap dirty plays, knowing he won't be punished adequately because he's the face of the league. He's never funny or interesting in interviews, and is never referred to as a warm or welcoming guy by his teammates. Sure, some people simply don't like him because he's too good and wins too often, but there are also valid complaints to be made about his unsavoury personality, and the sense of entitlement that likely comes from being proclaimed the Next Big Thing as a teenager, and being considered the greatest hockey player in the world for over a decade. Let's take a look at fifteen people who can't stand Sidney Crosby.
15 Jeremy Roenick
Though there's no doubting that Jeremy Roenick was a great hockey player and a prolific scorer, there's not much sense in respecting his opinions when it comes to hockey these days. He told hockey fans who were frustrated by the lockout to kiss his ass. He criticized Chris Drury and had to apologize. He gambled on hockey, was arrested for driving without a license, and he's a Trump supporter. A couple of years back in the playoffs, during a game between the Penguins and the Lightning, Roenick called out Sidney Crosby's work ethic, saying that he should look at Jonathan Drouin for an example of a hardworking player, which is just a straight-up weird thing to say. During that same game, Sidney Crosby scored under a minute into overtime, winning the game for the Penguins against the Lightning, making Roenick look dumb.
14 Alexander Semin
There was a time back around 2009 when Alex Semin was one of the elite snipers in the league, playing alongside Backstrom and Ovechkin in Washington, putting up more than thirty goals multiple times. His career really took a nosedive though, due to a lack of confidence, injury problems, and a bad work ethic. Back when Semin was at the height of his powers, he called out Crosby, saying "What's so special about him?" and that, while he's a good skater and passer, he's a less interesting player than Patrick Kane. These comments of Semin's indicate a bias that a lot of Russian players seem to have, preferring pure skill and flashy plays over the more hard-working, simple North American style of playing. The fact that Semin couldn't hold an NHL job while Crosby remains one of the league's best players tells you all you need to know about the validity of Semin's claims.
13 Zdeno Chara
While the animosity between Crosby and guys like Roenick and Semin stem from comments that they made off the ice, in interviews or television broadcasts, the entirety of the beef between Crosby and Zdeno Chara is based on on-ice incidents. I doubt that Chara and Crosby actually have an issue with one another on a personal level, but in the past they've butted heads endlessly in the playoffs. A quick YouTube search will show videos like this one of the two captains of their respective squads tossing vicious chirps at each other. Crosby is an easily-frustrated guy, and when things aren't going his way in a game, he gets mad quickly and takes out his anger on others. However, Chara is simply too big and too strong for Crosby to contest with, causing his frustration to escalate further. Now Chara is getting old and their rivalry is losing steam, but there's no doubt that it was good for the league during its peak.
12 Ryan O'Reilly
While Sidney Crosby is no stranger to losing his cool and playing right on the edge of acceptable play, sometimes he takes it way too far. If you haven't seen it, take a look at this video of him violating one of hockey's most obvious no-nos, deliberately swinging his stick up between Ryan O'Reilly's legs, hitting him in the junk, and clearly hurting him pretty badly. Some people call that move "playing dirty pool" and there's no reason to ever do something like that, especially if you're the best player in the world and the guy you're spearing is way younger than you and nowhere near as established. Crosby received no punishment for the dirty play, which is not surprising considering the preferential treatment he has always gotten from the NHL.
11 P.K. Subban
The rivalry between P.K. Subban and Sidney Crosby seems mostly good natured, and good for the league. Like Crosby, Subban plays right on the edge every night and occasionally takes things too far. Unlike Crosby, Subban is genuinely likeable and funny guy, with a great sense of humour and a charming personality in interviews. Subban has been widely beloved in both cities he has played in so far. Here's a video of Crosby repeatedly smashing Subban's head onto the ice for no reason in some kind of weird MMA-looking altercation between the two that dragged on and on, with both players putting the blame on one another after the game. During that bitter playoff series between the two teams, they exchanged heated words after a game, and Subban told the media that Crosby said his breath stank, which Crosby denied. Crosby said that Subban made that up because he loves attention, which may be true, but it would have been way better if Crosby had gone along with the joke.
10 Facial Hair Enthusiasts
The playoff beard is one of hockey's great traditions, and so it's a shame that the face of the NHL and the world's best player grows these terrible, flimsy moustaches that really don't do the tradition justice. Over the last decade, it's likely that no player has played as many playoff minutes as Crosby has, and so he's had more time than anyone to grow some respectable facial hair, but he is just unable to ever get it together. Meanwhile, guys like Brent Burns and Joe Thornton have incredible beards but play on a team that is notoriously disappointing in the playoffs on a yearly basis. It's obviously a very petty complaint that Crosby is terrible at growing facial hair, but it would almost be better if he didn't even try.
9 Henrik Lundqvist
Because the Rangers and the Penguins are in the same division, Henrik Lundqvist and Sidney Crosby have seen a whole lot of each other over the years, and it's natural that the competition between them has taken a bitter tone at times. After all, Sidney Crosby's Pens have knocked the Rangers out of the playoffs a number of times, and a Crosby-led Team Canada made fairly light work out of Sweden during the gold medal game of the 2014 Olympics. The animosity between Lundqvist and Crosby came to a head during a playoff series in 2014, in which Lundqvist sprayed water in Crosby's face during a scrum, a move for which he was fined $5000. Of course $5000 is chump change for King Henrik, and the satisfaction of spraying water in Sid's face was probably worth every penny.
8 People At A Pennsylvania DMV
I'm not sure exactly whose side to take on this one, so feel free to weigh in in the comments if you feel strongly either way. A few years back, Crosby was in the news when we went to a DMV in Pennsylvania to get his driver's license renewed. Apparently a lot of DMVs have a rule where if a famous person comes in, they can skip the line because the distraction of having a notable person around would actually just make the whole process take longer for everyone. People who were in line at the DMV didn't see it that way though, and many thought that the move indicated that he felt superior to non-athletes or something. Others pointed out that they couldn't imagine someone like Wayne Gretzky skipping a line.
7 Alex Ovechkin
There's a term for what the relationship between Crosby and Ovechkin is like, which is "career rivals." It's comparable to the rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo in soccer, which has its own long, detailed Wikipedia page. Other examples of career rivals include Borg and McEnroe, or Ali and Frazier. The "career rivals" term indicates that whether or not the players actually dislike one another, their careers are partially defined through comparisons to another player, and that this competition makes both players better. There's still no way to know whether Crosby or Ovechkin will retire as the better player, but the competition is clearly very important to both players. They're fierce competitors and want to win under any circumstances, so even though Ovechkin obviously respects Crosby as a player, he also wants him to fail.
6 Brandon Dubinsky
It's pretty easy to tell that Brandon Dubinsky is an annoying guy to play against based on the fact that he has been involved in notable fights with both Crosby and Ovechkin, both of whom are generally reluctant to fight, and both of whose teams absolutely don't want to see their captains and star players fighting at any costs, although it's inspiring to see them stand up for themselves. Crosby and Dubinsky have had serious on-ice beef over the years.
Here's the video of them fighting, in which Crosby does better than I would have expected. Dubinsky has also ruthlessly crosschecked Crosby, and, during interviews between periods, complained about Crosby's complaining. Dubinsky is a decidedly average player and the fact that he has been able to get Crosby so upset and off his game would definitely be considered a victory by his coaches.
5 Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller and Sidney Crosby have seen a whole lot of one another over the course of their respective careers, and in almost every instance Crosby has come out on top. There's no doubt that Miller was an elite goalie at certain points in his career, but he was never able to put things together in a way that was conducive to success. He spent years toiling on disappointing Sabres teams, and spent time in Vancouver only a couple years after they went from a very good team to a very bad team. During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, after an incredible tournament by Miller, Crosby scored on Miller in overtime, giving Canada the gold. During the 2008 Winter Classic, Crosby scored the winning goal in the shootout on Miller to give the Penguins the win. Now, Miller's career is winding down and there's no doubt that Crosby got the better of him overall.
4 Mike Milbury
Remember back at the beginning of this article when I said that Jeremy Roenick's opinions about Sidney Crosby can be disregarded fairly safely because he has made so many erroneous judgments over the course of his life. Well the same goes for Mike Milbury, who is one of the worst general managers in NHL history, and who is always spouting off some stupid opinion during sportscasts. During a radio broadcast, Milbury called Crosby a "punk" and a "goody two shoes" and made light of his concussion issues. Milbury took a ton of heat for his comments, and tried to apologize to the Penguins for slighting Crosby, but they rejected his apology, which is awesome. The year before, Milbury got in trouble for referring to the Sedin twins as "Thelma and Louise" seeming to conflate weakness with femininity for some reason.
3 Most American Hockey Fans
Sidney Crosby's Golden Goal, in which he scored in overtime during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics to give Team Canada the gold over the American time, is considered to be perhaps the greatest moment in Canadian sports history, because it was Canada's greatest hockey player scoring in front of a home crowd, and Canada is known to have an inferiority complex when it comes to the United States. Last year, during the 150th birthday of Canada as a nation, Canadians voted Sidney Crosby as the greatest athlete of the 21st century, beating out people like Usain Bolt, Tom Brady, Cristiano Ronaldo, and LeBron James. It isn't true, of course. And Crosby's goal wasn't particularly nice. But the impact of that moment for Canadian sports fans is enough to make all American hockey fans, except for those who live in Pittsburgh, resentful of Crosby's success.
2 Ilya Kovalchuk
This is one of my favourite hockey moments in recent memory, and it's worth taking a look at on YouTube if you haven't seen it. In the first period of the game, Crosby did a dirty hit on Slava Kozlov, Ilya Kovalchuk's friend and countryman. Later in the game, with Crosby in the penalty box, Kovalchuk scored on an absolute rocket of a shot, and pointed right at Crosby as he was leaving the box, as if to say "that goal was your fault." Hockey players aren't especially known for having larger than life personalities, so this moment felt refreshing. It wasn't the first time Kovalchuk has shown distaste for Crosby, either. When Alex Semin said Crosby is overrated, Kovalchuk supported Semin's comments, saying that he is entitled to that opinion.
1 Most Non-Penguins Fans
Using the examples from this article, we can get a pretty good sense of how Crosby can occupy the position as both one of the greatest and one of the most hated hockey players in the world. What lies at the heart of the matter seems to be that he is so competitive and driven to succeed that he often steps over the line. Sometimes he'll complain about a play when he himself made a similar or worse play. There's also the sense of over-saturation. Because Crosby is in the media so much, we get sick of him. We're tired of watching him win over and over, his refusal to joke around, and his bland personality. As is the case with Tom Brady, when someone is that determined to win and has such success, it's a natural instinct to want to see them lose. But of course, hating Crosby will never get you anywhere. He's still only 30, and his career in the NHL may only be half way through.