During the 2005 NHL Draft Lottery - literally a lottery, for the rights to the first overall pick following the lockout-cancelled season - every fan of every team in the league was a Sidney Crosby fan.
With each ball that fell through the lottery machine, a fan-base would fall off the Crosby bandwagon about as quickly as their chance of acquiring the generational prospect had evaporated. The yearning and wonder turned to bitter disdain and hate, and instead of looking forward to the future with Crosby at the helm of their team's ship, opposing fans began to have visions of their team's biggest, baddest player bull-rush Crosby through a pane of glass and into the fifth row.
That's generally what happens when someone great comes along - everyone else masks uncontrollable jealously into vicious hatred. For some reason, though, that hatred feels a lot more real when it comes to Sid the Kid than it ever did for Gretzky, Lemieux or any other of the all-time greats.
Granted, Crosby put some of this on himself - he earned himself a reputation as a bit of a whiner, a "cry baby" who would complain incessantly to officials over the abuse he was talking from opponents trying to contain his all-world ability.
Eventually, Crosby grew up and grew out of that label - for the most part. There are still plenty who haven't forgotten and surprisingly, a lot of those people are the guys he lines up against throughout the regular season. It's normal for players to have rivalries with specific opponents, but you'll usually on see that with tough guys who drop the gloves every time they play each other. It's not often you'll see a guy of Crosby's caliber have this many people seeing red when they face-off against him - but it sure does make for some interesting hockey games.
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15 Teemu Selanne
Teemu Selanne never came off as the kind of guy who went out of his way to get under the skin of his opponents with threats and chirps - his play did enough damage to the other team as it was. However, Crosby was one of the few who managed to rub the Finnish Flash the wrong way, specifically during an Olympic matchup between Canada and Finland where Selanne not only accused Crosby of diving, but got in his ear about the incident shortly afterwards.
It took a flop from the game's best player to light that sort of fire under Selanne, but he didn't seem like the kind of guy you wanted to be face-to-face with when he's angry.
14 Ilya Kovalchuk
Ilya Kovalchuk no longer dons an NHL jersey when he laces up his skates, but during the early years of his career he managed to show up Crosby while still a member of the Atlanta Thrashers.
The two were going at it for the majority of what turned into an Atlanta rout, but things boiled over when Crosby took a second slashing penalty late in the game. He had already gone lumberjack on Kovalchuk a few times, but Kovalchuk decided to respond in the manner he knew best - by scoring. Kovalchuk unloaded an absolute bomb from the point while Crosby was in the box and instead of celebrating with his teammates, Kovalchuk turned and pointed at Crosby, giving him a stare down as Crosby helplessly took the skate of shame across to his bench, unable to utter any comeback worthy of the lesson he had just been taught by the Russian sniper.
13 Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller lands on this list for one reason, and one reason only - The Golden Goal.
While, in the moment, the hatred was mostly masked as crushing disappointment, over time it has no doubt festered into some kind of hatred. For all we know, Miller and Crosby get along just fine in person - but every time the highlight of that fateful moment is replayed on a loop, there's no doubt that there's a steaming desire in Miller to find the Golden Boy and and give him a golden shiner.
12 Zdeno Chara
Remember when Phil Kessel thought it was a good idea to try and hack John Scott's leg off? Replace Kessel with Crosby, Scott with Chara, and throw in a much more protective officiating crew.
Why on Earth Crosby thought it would be a good idea to take a hack at Chara, no one will ever know. He had the balls to get up in the big man's grill, we'll give him that much - but it helps when several officials are making sure that Chara got nowhere near the young Penguins captain.
Chara looked just about ready to eat Crosby, if he could have gotten near him, highlighting one of the issues many have with Crosby - he'll often start situations he can't finish or knows he won't actually have to partake in. He knew the officials wouldn't let Chara near him and he took advantage of the rare instance to run one's mouth against the Bruins behemoth without consequence.
11 Henrik Zetterberg
Crosby and Zeterberg have gotten into a surprising amount of scrums and tussles over the years, but it's what Crosby did after the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 that really irked the Wings' captain.
Winning the Stanley Cup is as good a reason to celebrate wildly as any, but the tradition of the game and the pillars of sportsmanship it was built on call for the captains of both teams to lead their respective teams through the standard post-series handshake lineups. Crosby, who was more likely than not simply swept up in the moment, was one of the last Penguins to join the handshake line that night, drawing the ire of many a Wing - but it seems like Zetterberg didn't forget as easily as the others, as he and Crosby got into it the very next season.
10 Craig Berube
Craig Berube was a Flyers' assistant during the infamous 2012 playoff brawl between the Pens and Flyers.
The battle of Pennsylvania was going to get heated; everyone knew it, it was just a matter of when. Crosby managed to piss off basically everybody in orange that night, and Craig Berube went off on the Penguins star, essentially saying that opposing players should take runs at him (paraphrased, of course).
You really have to dislike a guy to put that kind of target on his back.
9 Brayden Schenn
While many will remember Berube's rant or point first to Claude Giroux, it was Brayden Schenn who was the first to carve out his spot in the long line of Sidney Crosby's on-ice enemies. Many remember the Crosby-Giroux tilt from a few games later, but it was Schenn who was in Crosby's pocket all night long a few games earlier, antagonizing and aggravating Crosby to the point where Crosby could not resist the urge to get a bit of a cheap shot in on Schenn - prompting Schenn to give Crosby a two-hander to the back while the latter skated back to the bench.
A rivalry was born and we likely haven't seen the end of it.
8 Alex Ovechkin
This entry may surprise some. Crosby and Ovechkin have never really fought and seem to get along fine off the ice.
But if you've watched even one game in Ovechkin's career, you know what kind of competitive fire burns inside him - and you see how brightly it burns during games against Crosby's Penguins.
Ovechkin didn't shy away from playing Crosby physical early on in his career, either, prompting some terse moments between the two over the years. These days, the competition takes place more on the stat sheet and in the trophy case than it does with fists and body checks, but the point remains the same: if Crosby comes out on top of this career rivalry, Alex Ovechkin will have restless nights for the rest of his life.
7 The Entire NY Islanders Organization
Crosby is, simply put, the Islanders Kryptonite. In the regular season, Crosby has 89 points in 50 career games against the Isles, including six game-winning goals (the most he has against any team). They weren't able to beat him in the playoffs either, losing their 2013 first-round matchup, where Crosby put up nine points during the six-game series (outshined only by teammate Evgeni Malkin).
Crosby figures to be a thorn in the side of the Isles for the rest of his career - perhaps their move to Brooklyn might throw him off a little, but that's unlikely.
6 Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist has a reputation to uphold as the NHL's suavest athlete, earned in large part thanks to the fact that he is widely considered the most handsome man in the league.
But even the Prince Charming of the league can get rattled by the antics of Sid the Kid, as evidenced by numerous run-ins between the two superstars. The first notable incident took place in Crosby's early years, when Lundqvist purposefully left his crease to call out Crosby for diving. Crosby retaliated with a cross-check, setting off a brawl (and a rivalry that we will get to shortly). The second time around, it was Lundqvist again who initiated, squirting Crosby in the face with his water bottle as Crosby was in the middle of another melee.
Suffice to say the King has never been a big Crosby fan.
5 Hockey Fans in General
It's hard to truly put your finger on the reason why, but Crosby has found a way to earn himself the reputation as one of the league's least-likable superstars among hockey fans.
Often times we can justify this with the reasoning that it's nothing more than petty jealousy from opposing fans, who in reality would do anything to have as talented a player on their team.
Not with Crosby. There is a legitimate legion of anti-Crosby fans who despise the player and the person, and nothing he can do from now one can change that. His antics and whining early in his career painted him in a negative light from the get-go - not unlike the man he's usually measured up against, but Wayne Gretzky didn't have to deal with 400 different camera angles, a 24/7 news cycle and social media.
4 Mike Milbury
While many will criticize Crosby openly, many aren't analysts on the league's main American network. Mike Milbury has always has a bit of an "interesting" take during his intermission hits with NBC, and it hasn't been any different when the topic of Crosby has come up. He's called out Crosby a number of times, resorting to childish name-calling at times - showing his utter disdain for a player that he most likely would have run as a player, or traded away for minimal return as a general manager.
3 Flyers Fans
We've already mentioned that hockey fans in general have a certain dislike for Crosby, but in Philadelphia there's likely a deep well that is reserved for Crosby should they ever get their hands on him.
There's a special kind of hate for Crosby in the City of Brotherly Love, developed over years of epic battles between the Flyers and Pens that Crosby has always featured prominently in.
2 Claude Giroux
In Philadephia, Crosby is The Joker and Claude Giroux is Batman. Crosby, the aloof, largely unimpressive but still-vicious villain; Giroux the sometimes dark and brooding hero with no superpowers beside his silky smooth hands and an immeasurably high hockey IQ.
Giroux and Crosby have clearly never gotten along on the ice and even if they've been able to put their differences aside to win Canada a World Championship or play sledge hockey with disabled athletes, the pure hatred for each other will be re-ignited the second they step on the ice for their respective sides again.
1 Brandon Dubinsky
While Giroux and Crosby were able to put their differences aside outside of the Flyers-Penguins rivalry, I have a hard time believing Brandon Dubinsky and Crosby would be able to get along as well.
These two are the kind of guys who've been fighting over the same girl for years, and will go at it whether they are facing off on the ice or if they're waiting in line at Starbucks for a coffee.
It's clear that this rivalry was born while Dubinsky was a member of the Rangers. Remember the Lundqvist story from earlier? The first player to jump Crosby was Dubinsky. While it's unclear if that's what started all this, it certainly got the ball rolling.
There's been too many hacks, shoves and punches thrown between the two over the past few years to start listing them all, but that pretty much shows you at what point the two dislike each other.
In Columbus, Dubinsky has taken on the role of super-shadow-two-way-pest, or something along those lines. There's no label for it - but one thing that's become crystal clear is that every time the two face each other, Dubinsky's sole purpose is to latch on to Crosby's hip and make his life a living hell.
It's great fun to watch, and it's even better when the hate spills over - and it's made Brandon Dubinsky a surprisingly popular player around the league.
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