CALGARY, Alberta --
"Yeah, I pretty much stay in my (hotel) room. No shopping, or anything like that. I stay in the cave and hang out."
-- Sidney Crosby
He's no Greta Garbo, but yes, Sidney Crosby
does value his privacy.
Although there may not be much of that, now that the kid from Cole Harbour is making his second trip through hockey-mad Western Canada.
"Yeah, I pretty much stay in my (hotel) room," Crosby, the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins
, told a laughing throng of about two dozen media on Tuesday morning at the Pens' downtown Calgary digs. "No shopping, or anything like that. I stay in the cave and hang out."
In early December 2007, Crosby finally made a much-anticipated trip through Western Canada as an NHL player. It was the first time he'd visited cities such as Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver with the Penguins — despite having already played two full NHL seasons, and collected the Hart Trophy, as League MVP, and Art Ross
Trophy, as scoring champion, the previous winter.
In a region ravenous for the sport, the crush of attention and adulation was predictable. During that five-day trip, Crosby held eight press conferences, a situation usually reserved for the Stanley Cup Final.
Now 22, and having been fitted for a Cup ring, Crosby is making his second tour of Western Canada, with the Penguins playing the host Flames on Wednesday, Oilers on Thursday, and Canucks on Saturday, before a coast-to-coast audience on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.
The Pens arrived in Calgary in the wee hours of Tuesday morning after a 4-3 loss in Minnesota to the Wild on Monday night. The defending Stanley Cup champions didn't practice, but there was Crosby, the sport's ambassador and a future Olympian, on the podium late Tuesday morning.
Is Crosby still excited by stepping into the spotlight's glare?
"I look forward to playing in great hockey atmospheres, for sure," said the 5-foot-11, 200-pound center, after a slight hesitation. "As a hockey player you look forward to those games.
"It's exciting for that reason — not any other reason. With the (upcoming 2010 Vancouver) Olympics, and stuff like that, (he'll be receiving) probably a little more (attention) than usual. That's to be expected. It's something I look forward to, purely because of the great hockey cities we go to here."
As the "second coming" in hockey circles, Sid the Kid was barely allowed to be a kid as he moved from Shattuck-St. Mary's prep school in Faribault, Minn., to Rimouski, Que., to Steeltown, after being selected first overall by the Pens in the 2005 Entry Draft.
But Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma
has watched with pride this season as his young captain improves on his skills as an ambassador.
"It's impressive. You fail to realize how young he is, still, but when you realize that the spotlight's been on him since he was 14 years old, being in front of the cameras, and having the questions, and dealing with Team Canada and the world juniors and the Stanley Cup, being a captain, and on and on and on . . . he seems to be quite level-headed about it," said Bylsma.
"Every day, he approaches it with the same mentality. For the cameras, for the fans, for our team, he certainly is rock-solid in how he approaches every day."
From the Pens' Stanley Cup-winning run into June, to Hockey Canada's 2010 Olympic men's orientation camp in August, to a compressed NHL schedule in an Olympic year, to the upcoming Winter Games themselves in Vancouver next month, Crosby — as the face of the Penguins, and a cornerstone of Team Canada 2010 — hasn't truly been able to relax for about 16 months.
"I think I'm getting better at it. I try to remind myself to take days off once in a while," Crosby told reporters. "There are times where you have to know yourself, and whether or not you can get through that three- or four-day span (without taking) a day off.
"Sometimes you have to tell yourself to get away for a day. It's better off that way. That's really the key. We've had two pretty long seasons previously (making the Cup final against Detroit in two straight springs). I think the coaches are aware of that, and they've been doing a pretty good job of making sure we stay fresh.
"But this time of year is when you have to be smart and, as a team, playing well, because everyone needs to help each other through this point in the season."
As for privacy?
Sid the Kid still manages, thanks.
"You just try to learn. You kind of learn as you go, and try to learn from other people," he said, asked about today's modern media and public scrutiny. "Today, with everything the way it is, and camera phones and the Internet, things like that, there's probably not as much privacy as there used to be, but that's the way it is.
"To be honest, that's all I really know. That's what I've grown up around, so ... I probably don't know any different than that. Like I said, you just try to learn as you go.
"I'm a pretty private person anyway, so I try to keep it that way."