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

At the scene of the crime, The Kid makes his slick getaway as the gang unleashes payback for months of conditioning drills.

Photo courtesy of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's terrific Empty Netters Blog

 

Sid the Kid

May 18, 2005–Rimouski, Quebec, Canada

Fans from all over Rimouski, the small French-Canadian town in eastern Quebec, are lined up in the parking lot outside the Colisée de Rimouski. The early birds pulled into the parking lot before dawn to queue up for the hottest ticket in town. The only ticket in town, really—a chance to see their beloved Major Junior hockey team, the Oceanic, play in the 2005 Memorial Cup playoffs.

Now, there are hundreds humming with excitement waiting for the ticket booth to open. Many are wearing jerseys of their team’s new star, 17-year-old Sidney Crosby. Some call him by his nickname, “Darryl.”

The young kid from Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia, earned the handle—a reference to former Toronto Maple Leafs Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler, who once scored 10 points in a single game—after the kid himself scored eight in his first game with the Oceanic. “Darryl dirigera l’équipe à un championnat,” the fans hope aloud in the parking lot.

Suddenly, a commotion. A skinny, mop-haired kid emerges at the back of the line carrying a buffet of the holiest of Canadian delicacies: Tim Horton’s doughnuts. The tower of boxes leans like the Tower of Pisa, and his buddies are in tow with jugs of juice and coffee for the loyal fans.

The fans thank the kid for the free breakfast, but he just shrugs them off and extends his hand. “No, thank you for coming out to support our team,” he says.

Under the baseball cap and curly hair, the delivery boy is actually Sidney Patrick Crosby, idol of Rimouski.

“The rink almost became a second home for us,” Crosby remembers now. “As a kid, our team had some 5 a.m. practice times, so I was lucky to have parents who made a lot of sacrifices for me. My bond with my dad was especially strong. He obviously taught me a lot about the game but more so [about] life in general.”

Like how to act as if you’re still the kid down the street, even when your name is on the back of nearly every fan’s jersey—a rare trait Crosby exhibits to this day.
 

Sid the Franchise

2005–present

There’s one fact about Crosby that always makes Penguins fans cringe and fans north of the border grin: He grew up rooting for the rival Montreal Canadiens, the team that drafted his father, Troy.

Posters of Guy Lafleur and Maurice “Rocket” Richard adorned the walls of his childhood bedroom. Even now, he can speak conversational French (Sacrebleu!).

So, will we be faced with the excruciating possibility of Sid pulling a LeBron James and announcing his future on a “La Décision Deux” ESPN special when his contract expires in 2013?

Au contraire. Crosby’s love for the Canadiens has run out.

“Things change,” Crosby says with a laugh. “The instant I started playing in Pittsburgh, any of those feelings went away. I haven’t grown to like Montreal very much after what happened at the end of last season.”

Does that mean Sid the Kid will retire in the black and gold like his mentor, Super Mario?

“That’s definitely the plan,” Crosby says. “I love it in Pittsburgh. I love all the guys, and the organization is first-class. There [are] a lot of great things happening here.”

We live in an age when even seemingly immaculate NFL gunslingers succumb to camera-phone mudslinging, when an NBA megastar hosts the public execution of the franchise he once saved and when even our own hometown heroes let us down. A quiet kid who lives by a code? A leader by example? A nice guy? Unfortunately, that doesn’t always sell in the Age of Twitiocy.

If only fans saw more of the real Crosby, the one that exists outside the glow of the TV cameras, they would see a man who is more than an ambassador for the NHL, Reebok or Canada. They would see a genuine role model with uncommon character.

Just don’t trust him with your car keys. PM


Sean Conboy is Pittsburgh Magazine's associate editor for sports and features. Follow him on Twitter @SeanCon66 and his blog, Pulling No Punches

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