Today the inestimable Puck Daddy had a post wondering how the NHL fan would react to an A-Rod-style steroid revelation in hockey. In the post, Wyshynski quoted an email from one of his readers:
Baseball’s biggest stars in recent memory:
A-Rod – admitted to taking steroids.
Barry Bonds – admitted to taking the clear. Let’s be honest, he took steroids.
Roger Clemens – Liar, steroid user.
Mark McGwire – Admitted to taking Andro..and that’s just to start.
Slammin Sammy Sosa – Let’s be real. He juiced.
Hockey’s biggest stars in recent memory:
Wayne Gretzky – his wife gambled, he runs a hockey team, wins Canada a gold medal.
Mario Lemieux – he overcame cancer.
Sidney Crosby – no juice.
Alex Ovechkin – no juice
(And hockey players are tested as part of international play commitments) The truth shall set you free!
As with every situation where hockey fans pat themselves on the back for how comparatively squeaky-clean our sport is in relation to the other major pro leagues, this proclamation gives us pause. No, of course Sid and Ovie haven’t tested positive for steroids, but you know what? Neither had McGwire and Sosa until they were declared dopers. Neither had Barry Bonds. Neither had Roger Clemens. And as recently as last year we heard from all kinds of MLB pundits about how the league couldn’t wait until A-Rod passed Bonds as the all-time home run king, just so they could have a clean player to lionize. Whoops.
It never ceases to amaze us when there is a new steroid “scandal” in any sport, how sportswriters and fans line up to clutch their pearls and act stunned. But how many years has this been going on now? In how many sports? Hockey fans like to say that their sport is such that performance can’t be improved by steroids, but that’s ridiculous — if every single other sport, from sprinting to bicycling to football to tennis to whatever, is improved by illegal performance enhancers, why on Earth wouldn’t hockey be the same? Why on Earth would we think that Sean Hill is the only hockey player who’s doped?
Here’s the thing: we keep hearing about how Sid Crosby has the most thickly-muscled thighs ever seen in the NHL. We see pictures of Alex Ovechkin in his underarmour, looking like he walked out of the pages of an X-Men comic. We hear, every year, the stories about guys who show up at camp with 15-20 new pounds of muscle. We’re not saying we think there’s any proof those guys are doping. But we’re not saying we’re ever going to be surprised to find out any of them are.