I’m a fact based hockey fan.

Don’t get me wrong, a spoonful of speculation is great for conversation. While the tagline on our website is “We don’t spread rumors, we talk hockey,” it’s often fun to engage the “what-if’s” of the game when entertaining trade and free-agency possibilities.

However, unsubstantiated rumor is something that just irks me to the core, and I’ve had more of it than I can handle this summer.

I didn’t think it could get much worse than the lockout. That summer was brutally agonizing for all hockey fans. It was bad enough wondering if the sport we loved so much would close its doors for the year, but in Pittsburgh, we also had some unknowns in regards to our own arena deal.

Somehow, the summer of 2011 is finding a way to top both a closed down sport and a threat of relocation.

It started with the entire Jaromir Jagr fiasco. Something that initially began as a gentle set of quotes from a few different parties and quickly spiraled out of control into a Twitter phenomenon, the hash tag #jagrwatch was probably the most over-used tag in the history of the internet.

I had a decent enough time debating whether or not old JJ should return to his roots and retire in black and gold, but the conversations and articles on the local scene started to become more tabloid-like as the days grew closer to July 1, and when it was all said and done, we had an entire city of people (myself included) monitoring the progress of an airplane that couldn’t land on a U.S. runway because there were mating turtles all over the ground.

In retrospect, I think it’s safe to say we all became a little too invested in that one. Penguin fans across the world had endured a grueling free-agency period where we saw the subject of our hopes turn into the target of our ire. It couldn’t possibly get worse than Jagr going to Philadelphia, right?

But, alas, we’ve seen air traffic control experts turn into head trauma experts with the latest set of rumors floating through the web.

It was probably silly of me to assume that we’d have a summer where Sidney Crosby could return to Halifax and complete the healing process tied to his concussion(s).

Free-agency and a few videos of Sid dangling in Halifax quelled the initial concerns, but at the first sign of trouble, the rumor mongering trolls emerged from their caves to take on the roles of neurological experts, and now we’ve got a fresh new crusade of rumors that are ready to bury Sidney Crosby’s career.

To be fair, the news coming out of Crosby’s camp has been pretty vague outside of yesterday’s article detailing the expectation that Crosby would make a full recovery. However, I think it’s safe to say the amount of misinformation in regards to Crosby is growing by the day.

A great example of this was a rumor that emerged earlier this week out of Halifax that said Crosby had canceled all his upcoming training sessions at the local rink. At that time, it was assumed that he had a setback in his recovery and on-ice activities were going to be put back on the shelf.

However, as information emerged, it became clear that Crosby was actually in Toronto filming a Tim Horton’s commercial.

Since there is only one Sidney Crosby, why wouldn’t he cancel his training sessions in Halifax if he had to go to Toronto to film a commercial?

At this point, the only thing I haven’t heard in regards to Crosby is that he’s suddenly become allergic to ice and he’ll have to retire or switch to roller hockey as a result.

Whatever the case, I have never looked forward to the puck dropping more than I have right now. A summer of getting pulled through one rumor swamp after another has been as mentally draining as it gets.

I’d almost prefer last summer where the trolls emerged demanding we trade Marc-Andre Fleury.

I was wondering last week where all the folks that demanded a Fleury trade disappeared to after his MVP season.

I quickly realized that the same group demanding that trade is the same group, shovels in hand, ready to bury Sidney Crosby’s career.

October, will you please hurry?