PITTSBURGH -- Just like he does at Consol Energy Center, Sidney Crosby sat at the chair in front of his locker stall with media surrounding him Friday after practice.
Only, this was so completely different.
For one, Crosby was at Heinz Field, not Consol Energy Center.
He was wearing a toque, not a baseball cap.
There is so much media here that he had to do two waves of interviews, first for the television cameras and next for the print media.
Crosby, as he usually does, handled it all with grace. He spoke about the fierece rivalry between the Penguins and Capitals, his role in promoting the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and, of course, the weather.
Here is some of what he had to say:
What's it like being one of the faces of this rivalry?
Crosby: "I think in any rivalry you hope that it brings the best out in your team and you respond the right way, and in the past we've done that. There should be a certain level of confidence there that that is going to be the case, but I don't think you want to get caught up in thinking about the other team too much and getting preoccupied with this, I guess, hatred, so to speak. We have to worry about ourselves, what we're going to do. That's the best way to prepare. I don't think you can get caught up thinking about the other team too much. I don't think you can afford to."
Describe the beginning of practice and what it was like to get out there, look around and take it all in?
Crosby: "It's pretty neat, especially here at home in front of the fans. Even just watching the alumni game before it's pretty special. We know not every team gets this chance, especially to host it. I think everyone just tries to take it in as much as they can. Practice was fun. We started with a bit of a game and that's what it's about. You have to work hard but you have to have fun doing it, and that's what we did."
How hard was it to focus on practice with everyone around?
Crosby: "It's not that hard at all. That's why we play. That's usually the style and type of practices we have. We work hard but we enjoy doing it, and there is nothing wrong with that. You should be able to do both and we did that today."
It was drizzling a little bit during your practice. Did you have any problem on your visor with seeing?
Crosby: "No. It was there, but you just tilt it up. I think everyone is ready for whatever comes and it's going to be OK. We have a positive outlook on everything."
What were your impressions of the alumni game and Mario not scoring?
Crosby: "Yeah, but he was passing a lot there. He passed up a few shots to set some guys up. He looked really good out there for not skating much. Coffey looked unbelievable, too, the way he was skating. I think the best thing is just seeing all those guys together. I just walked by the room when they were getting dressed and they don't miss a beat. They enjoy seeing one another and sharing some old stories, and to see them back together is pretty neat."
It's been six years and more of you having these responsibilities at an event like this. How are you different in understanding your role?
Crosby: "I don't think my outlook is any different than it was my first year. It's a part of it and if anything I probably say no more than I did my first year. That's probably what I've learned the most. If anything I still understand the importance and your experience prepares you. There are less surprises and I'm ready for more things. As far as the seriousness that I take in what I do, I don't think that's changed at all."
You said you don't think about the opponent in this rivalry. How do you not think about the opponent?
Crosby: "You think about the other team when you're preparing for them, but that's the great thing about a rivalry -- you don't have to think about it, it's just natural. You go out there and the intensity is there, the emotion is there and it's just a natural thing to happen. Everyone's game is intense and physical and it's something that comes pretty easy. When you get into those games you expect it to be like that, you expect a lot out of yourself and you just have those expectations of it being a tough game. That usually brings out the best in everyone. We've seen that for a number of years. We've had some close games with them and the playoffs, all those things combined, I think that's the expectation."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl