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GETTING TO KNOW SIDNEY

Monday, 09.12.2005 / 12:00 AM / Pittsburgh Penguins
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GETTING TO KNOW SIDNEY

Sure, he’s a superstar. Yeah, he’s a household name in Canada. It’s evident he’s poised for NHL glory.

However, Sidney Crosby is just like any other teenager.

Really.

Amid all the hype and fanfare surrounding his ascension to the pinnacle of elite hockey prospects, Crosby remains humble. And, when he can, he still likes to do the things mere mortals enjoy.

“I like to watch a lot of movies and go to the beach or a lake – just hang out with friends,” he said. “I am pretty active. I don’t like sitting around too much. I like being outside and doing whatever.”

Crosby’s 18th birthday celebration (on Aug. 8) was a perfect representation of his humble personality.

“I was in Los Angeles and my family was out there and we just had a barbecue at my agent’s house,” he said. “I kicked back and relaxed a bit and played some beach volleyball. It was just a relaxing day to spend with friends and family.”

Well, what did he get?

“I got an iPod. It was cool,” he said. “I don’t know how I am going to work it because I am not much good with computers.”

Nevertheless, it was useful gift for an avid music fan. Crosby says he likes country and rock music the most and points to Tim McGraw as his favorite singer.

“I like pretty much everything, though,” he said.

Crosby enjoys watching movies as well.

“Wedding Crashers was hysterical,” he said. “I liked Ladder 49, too, but that is a more serious one.”

So, what fuels an NHL phenom?

“I love Chinese food,” Crosby said. “Egg rolls, beef fried rice, sweet and sour chicken … it has to be the right place, though.”

Crosby hails from Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia. He grew up in a close-knit neighborhood where he developed his modest nature and solid character.

“It was great. A lot of my friends, we all grew up in the same neighborhood and played hockey growing up,” he said. “We had great teams and we won a lot of championships. I played baseball with a lot of guys in the summer, so it was just a great community to grow up in. There are about 30,000-40,000 people there. I am really happy I grew up in a good environment.”

Crosby grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan. He didn’t have any choice, though.

“My dad was drafted by Montreal in 1984. I have grown up a Montreal fan – my whole family is Montreal fans, so I guess they pretty much brainwashed me,” he said with a laugh. “I remember watching my first NHL game and it was in Montreal at the Molson Centre. It was a playoff game against Buffalo.”

Crosby, whose favorite color is blue, will wear Penguins black and gold this fall. However, he’s a fan of another sports team with similar colors.

“I am a Steelers fan. I am not a huge football fan, but I definitely remember watching the Steelers and The Bus and (coach) Bill Cowher,” he said. “If I happen to watch a playoff game, I always go for them. They have a lot of history and their fans are great, so I follow them the most.”

Crosby is not a Pirates fan, though.

“I have always followed the Red Sox and the Expos before they moved to D.C.,” he said. “It’s kind of sad they are starting to do well now.”

Crosby enjoys watching and playing baseball. When on the field, he pitches and catches.

“I have played a lot of pickup baseball the past two years even though I was playing hockey,” he said. “There was a baseball field right next to the rink so we’d just play when we could. I play golf when I can. I play a lot of tennis, too. Anything outside, I like to play any sport and be competitive.”

You won’t find Crosby cemented to a couch playing video games.

“No. I don’t really watch a lot of TV or get into playing games,” he said.

However, you might catch him checking out some hockey video games this year to see himself digitized.

“It’s going to be weird,” he said with a laugh. “I haven’t even thought about that.”

Crosby does enjoy studying history.

“I am a pretty big fan of history. I really like it,” he said. “That’s my favorite school subject. That’s something a lot of people didn’t know.”

On the ice, Crosby is superstitious like most athletes.

“I put on the equipment on my right side first. I don’t let anyone usually touch my stick after it’s been taped for a game, either,” he said. “I don’t get too out of control; if you’re too serious about it, you will drive yourself nuts.”

Of course, observing superstitions doesn’t always grant immunity to embarrassing moments – even for superstars.

“During the Memorial Cup, I had an interview with TV after one of the games and the guy told me I was the first star and the first star had to skate to center ice to get an award,” Crosby explained. “So, I wanted to go fast because the guy was hurrying me along. I was about 10 feet from center ice and they were dragging on the announcement. I didn’t end up getting first star; it was a guy on my team. They got our numbers mixed up.

“So, I was at center ice getting ready to accept the award and they called the other guy’s name. So, I was in front of about 10,000 people for no reason,” he said with a laugh. “He came out and I gave him a tap and said, ‘Sorry I came out here and stole the ice from you.’ It was one of those things where you just want to hurry off.”

What would Crosby do if he didn’t play hockey?

“I have no idea what I’d be doing. I’d try to have a job within hockey, maybe,” he said. I would have to do something active. I don’t think I could be behind a desk. I don’t know what I’d do.”

One thing is for sure, Penguins fans are glad there’s hockey and glad they have Crosby.

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