Not sure who was luckier the day Crosby autographed a -- uh -- tank top.
 At 16, he was the luckiest kid in the world. Today, at 21 he is one of the luckiest MEN in the world. He does, however, take an amazing amount of abuse from fans. You can hear complaints about there being too much coverage of Crosby by all media outlets, but the truth of the matter is, he actually deserves it.

Crosby has been the center of Canadian Hockey media attention since he was 13 years-old. (He's had an agent since he was ten.) Once he was selected first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005, the American Hockey media followed suit. But the years in Canadian Juniors had taught him how to handle the media scrutiny with amazing diplomacy. He would conduct interviews in both English and French, and answer to the best of his ability. Late night TV found him to be a charming guest recounting tales of destroying his mother's washing machine by practicing his slap shot.

To the fans, he is amazingly gracious. He would sign autographs long after his team mates had left the arena. He is so accommodating, that Mario LeMieux would often have to wait outside the rink for him with the car running while Crosby finished signing autographs after practice sessions in Pittsburgh.
This was the price Mario paid for being the surrogate father to "The Next One." Mario has done a splendid job raising him. Sidney is no longer a petulant youngster, but a man on a mission -- to win the Stanley Cup.


It was apparent in the highly stylized NHL ad that kicked off this current season. Sidney came out of the photograph from the Game 7 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. He said he never wanted to be in that position again. That commercial must have struck him to his core, because here he is once again, vying for the prize against the Red Wings. He can still taste the loss. It was bitter and he will do anything and everything to walk away the victor.

I didn't start writing this to talk about the possibilities of winning the cup, and it may sound premature after the Game 1 loss Saturday night. I actually wanted to talk about something I personally witnessed in the tunnel between player dressing rooms at the Coliseum in late November of last year.

Unfortunately, we're told that things that we see or hear outside of the press room or the lock room are not for publication, I'm going to take a chance on this one.
 
The Penguins had gone from being down by three goals to beating the Islanders during one of their famous third period collapses. After nights like those, I would wait in the hallway between locker rooms for the other bloggers to be finished so they could walk me to my car in the deserted parking lot. (As the only female in the group, it was a courtesy I truly appreciated.)

On this night the hallway was not empty. Bryan Trottier stood waiting patiently with a man and his young son by the door way. There was a small crowd standing behind the barricades waiting, but I didn't know why.
Sidney Crosby, freshly showered and his hair still wet walked out into the hallway.
 
"Excuse me, Sidney. I'm Bryan Trottier."  The voice was soft and familiar.
 
My eyes almost fell out of my head they opened so wide. Bryan Trottier introduced himself to Sidney Crosby. They shook hands and Sidney admitted to knowing who he was.
 
Trotts held out a hockey stick, "I was wondering if you could sign this for my little friend here?" Crosby was only to happy to oblige. What struck me most was that he not only signed without hesitation, but he leaned over in his custom tailored suit and engaged the boy in conversation. The boy's father seemed mute. He couldn't believe that Sidney Crosby, hockey's rock star, was asking his son how he felt about hockey.
 
Malkin walked passed the gathered crowd behind the barricade. He signed one or two autographs for those in front and quickly left towards to doorway. Crosby stayed for another few moments to accommodate them as well and exited toward the team bus.
 
Crosby has taken so much heat for being the face of the "new" NHL. Somehow, he has managed to stay grounded and focused and not let it get in the way of who he really is and what he wants to accomplish. Beyond all the shirtless photo shoots, the commercials, the endorsements, the countless on air and print interviews, he has stayed constant.  Some have called him emotionless, I say you're not watching him play the game.
 
Sidney Crosby has grown up right before the public's eyes.  The way he has handled it all, well, THAT is the real sign of maturity.