Don't Trust Sidney Crosby with Your Car Keys

The savior of the Pittsburgh Penguins is not the kid you think he is.



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Sidney Crosby is a lot of things. He’s ruthlessly competitive while simultaneously devoid of an ego. He is a wine connoisseur who spends flights to and from arenas playing videogames with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He is a taskmaster at practice who just so happens to play pranks on his teammates in the middle of the night.

As human beings, we have an insatiable desire to want to know our heroes. Even when it hurts, like this past spring when we got a bit too close to Ben Roethlisberger. In Pittsburgh, the impossible task of getting to know Sidney Crosby has become sort of a pastime. When a photo leaked to the Internet of a snoring Crosby cuddling with the Stanley Cup in the wake of Penguins’ 2009 championship, we reacted like tweens who just witnessed Miley Cyrus giving Justin Bieber a piggyback ride through Ross Park Mall. The smallest peek behind the curtain triggered a voyeuristic conniption.

Yet every time there’s a camera in his face or a bouquet of microphones running hot, Sid simply charms us to death with aw-shucks humility and Downy-soft media-speak. He’s so normal it befuddles us.

He is seemingly everything to everyone. But the real Sidney Crosby is a lot more interesting.

In October, Pittsburgh magazine sat down with Sid to discuss his childhood, his role as a captain and his forays into locker room espionage.

 

Sid the Spy

Dec. 14, 2009–Mellon Arena

The coup is working like it was masterminded by Danny Ocean. The Penguins just wrapped up a morning practice at Mellon Arena when a few of the boys decide to extract a measure of revenge on strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar for his tyrannical workout regimens. The ever-mischievous Max Talbot, winger Pascal Dupuis and defenseman Jay McKee have hatched a brilliant scheme, but they need a trustworthy, straight-faced double-agent to secure the coveted jackpot: the keys to Kadar’s SUV.

Who better than The Kid?

After getting dressed, Talbot, Dupuis and McKee hurry out to the staff parking lot for the crucial drop-off. Right on time, a security guard appears from a side-door and discretely hands over a bag containing the secret weapon. Moments later, Sid the Kid emerges from the players’ entrance and tosses Kadar’s stolen keys to Dupuis, who hastily opens the sunroof. With McKee standing on top of the car holding the weapon of mass destruction, Talbot capturing the moment on his camera-phone, Dupuis laughing like a stoned frat boy and Sid walking away discreetly like nothing ever happened, the gang unleashes their coup on drill sergeant Kadar: thousands of packing peanuts flood the SUV.

“Packing peanuts?” Crosby says now with a sly grin. “Oh, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

As the youngest captain in the history of the NHL to win the Stanley Cup, Crosby knows that his work ethic sets the tone in the locker room. His hustle at practice is relentless, and his instructions to teammates ceaseless. But he also knows when to take the pressure off.

“When we’re on the road, pranks are just part of the lifestyle in the hotel,” Crosby says. “One time, we had somebody take a bunch of alarm clocks and strategically hide them in [former teammate] Ryan Whitney’s room. One was under the bed, one was behind the TV and they were set for like 2:30 in the morning. It was harmless, but, obviously, he was pretty shocked when the alarms went off in the middle of the night. It took him a long time to find the one behind the TV.”

Crosby learned everything he knows about being a leader from his former landlord, Mario Lemieux.

“Coming into the league my first year, I didn’t know what to expect,” Crosby admits. “I didn’t know ... anything, really. The little things—like you’re wearing suits for the first time; you’re learning how to pack for a road trip. This is all new stuff that you don’t think about, but I was lucky that I got to observe Mario. The special thing about him is that he’s always even-keeled—through really good times, through really tough times, Mario takes everything in stride. I think that’s an important trait to battle the pressure that comes with this game.”

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