Heckling is a time-honored tradition in sports, but it doesn’t normally end with a gift.
After having an impressive amount of creative taunts directed his way during Wednesday night’s game against the Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins player Sidney Crosby took an unusual step, rewarding one loyal New York fan with a signed hockey stick.
Acknowledging all of the colorful insults, Crosby signed the memento, “good chirps,” while adding, “take it easy on me next time!”
“Not a lot of cool things happen to me, but this is up there for sure,” Nick Lipeika, the recipient of the signed stick, told ESPN, explaining that during the game — which took place on the Rangers’ home turf at Madison Square Garden in New York City — he and his friends were sitting near the opposing team’s penalty box.
A serious heckler, Lipeika explained to the outlet that he had made sure to come up with some material just in case Crosby, the Penguins’ captain, got penalized during the game — which happened just minutes into the first period.
“I wanted to tell him things he hasn’t heard before,” Lipeika shared with ESPN, and some of the highlights from his heckles included some comments about how the NFL star stacked up against his fellow Canadians.
“Hey Crosby, you were voted third-toughest Canadian, behind Celine Dion and a close second to Avril Lavigne,” Lipeika told ESPN he shouted during one taunt, while during another he added, “Hey Crosby, when Gatorade wanted a tough guy, Justin Bieber turned them down so they settled for you.”
A fellow fan who was sitting nearby named Michael Gross went on to tell Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 that Crosby noticeably got a kick out of what Lipeika was saying.
“This guy was shouting things that would take him like 15, 20 seconds to get out. But, they were hilarious,” Gross told the outlet. “Once he got to his point, even Crosby was laughing about it.”
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After the game, which the Penguins ended up winning 7-2, Lipeika and his friends were getting ready to leave when he noticed a man wearing Penguins gear heading towards them, carrying a hockey stick, according to ESPN.
Although he initially assumed the memento was intended for a young Penguins fan sitting nearby, he told ESPN he “couldn’t believe it,” when he realized the gift was for him.
Despite giving the three-time Stanley Cup winner — who’s also picked up two Olympic gold medals throughout his career — a hard time during the game, Lipeika went on to share that Crosby’s reaction to his heckles made him like the player more.
“He’s that guy that, when he’s on your team, you couldn’t own enough of his stuff. But if he’s not on your team, you’re praying that he just has a bad night,” he told ESPN. “I think he moved up a few spots for me.”