|The Pittsburgh Penguins view Sidney Crosby as another teammate who happens to be an amazing hockey player. Crosby video|
Now, Max, is that really how you should be treating a superstar?
“We do it because he’s a teammate, a friend, and I make fun of all my friends just to have fun,” Talbot told NHL.com. “It’s not that it’s Sidney and I have to make him feel comfortable. He’s a friend, just one of the guys.”
To the general public, Crosby is a super-talented and politically correct captain who is responsible for much more than a typical 20-year-old.
However, to his teammates, Crosby is another teammate who just happens to be this amazing hockey player with an unbelievable sense of who he is and what he means to his team, this League and this game.
Crosby has somehow found the middle ground that allows him to be successful in his split-personality life, which includes pucks, sticks, photo shoots, video games and, apparently, the rarely used razor and shaving gel.
“He’s a great guy, real down to earth,” Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said. “You would never even know how big of a star he is if you just hung out with him. He likes hanging out. He’s just one of the guys. He likes playing video games.”
Penguins General Manager Ray Shero said what amazes him most about Crosby is how Crosby handles all the attention he so rightfully gets and all the publicity work he does with his sponsors and the League.
“It’s good to see that and see him having fun away from hockey,” Shero told NHL.com. “He would be a sophomore in college maybe, and as a sophomore in college we all did some funny things. He’s got a good personality and he’s a good kid.”
While his nickname is “Sid the Kid,” Talbot argues that Crosby is hardly that.
“Yes he’s 20 in one way, but he lives so much more than 20 years old and is going through so much that makes him mature,” Talbot said.
However, Talbot, the Penguins' 24-year-old fourth-line center added, “on certain subjects obviously he’s going to be a 20-year-old kid. You see him the other night in the lounge playing video games, and he gets all excited like a kid.”
That’s why it’s not weird for Talbot to, as he said, give Crosby a good “beaking,” or a good ribbing. It would only be weird if the other players didn’t treat Crosby as if he’s one of the guys. Because, really, that’s exactly what he is to them and what he wants to be.
“It must be tough sometimes, but since he’s been young he has always been followed by a lot of people,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. “Maybe that’s why he likes to hang out with the guys. When he hangs out he can relax and just be himself.”
Fleury said when he and Crosby were both out with high ankle sprains earlier this year, they spent a lot of time at the goalie’s house playing Call of Duty 4 on Xbox 360. The game is so popular the Penguins take it on the road with them.
Fleury, who is three years Crosby’s senior, takes great pleasure in dominating his good friend.
“We have pretty good battles,” the goalie said. “There is always chatter. It’s competitive. That’s the way he is.”
However, hanging with Crosby isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
“Every time we go somewhere it takes forever,” Fleury said with a sigh.
In Pittsburgh, Talbot said, the fans are great at giving Crosby some private time, but he’s still a figure wherever he goes and his teammates understand they have to deal with that part of hanging with Sid.
“Just going to grab some lunch, he gets stuck there to sign stuff or take pictures for a while,” Fleury added. “I just slip away. I leave it to him. Some people in Pittsburgh recognize me, but everywhere everyone recognizes him. Poor guy, I feel bad for him (laughs).”
Talbot said they sometimes have to choose their destinations wisely when Crosby is tagging along because they want him to feel comfortable.
“They don’t bother him because they’re fans and they’re awesome,” Talbot said, “but he’s going to get a little more attention. He’s been living with that his whole life.”
“I would be frustrated, but he doesn’t get like that,” Whitney added. “It seems like he’s always in a good mood. It’s fun to be on his team.”
Fleury, though, said there are times Crosby does want to just be left alone, but he never shows it.
“You’re not always friendly every day,” he said. “You’re not always in a good mood every day, but I think Sid is a good example of what we should be. He tries to be in a good mood every day.”
Marian Hossa, who was acquired at the trade deadline to play right wing on Crosby’s line, is amazed at what Crosby has done already.
“It is unusual for a 20-year-old kid,” Hossa said. “Not many guys can do it at such an early age. He’s taken a considerable amount of responsibility on his shoulders and he’s handled himself really well.”
This is why Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi believes Crosby is the ideal teammate and captain.
“The nice thing is even our superstars are humble about their accomplishments and it makes it hard to be jealous in any way,” Scuderi said. “Sid does a great job of staying the same person that he’s grown up as. That’s what makes him so appealing as an athlete.”
Or, as some teammates see it, it also makes Crosby the perfect target.
“He’s not a lot smarter than 20 years old, that’s for sure,” Fleury said giggling and grinning. “No, I’m just kidding. He is a fun guy. He is laid back.”
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com