Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 12/28/07 at 05:50 PM ET
On Tuesday, January 1st, at 1 p.m. ET, Sidney will lead the Penguins onto the ice at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, where they will take on the hometown Sabres in the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic.
Sidney leads the Penguins and is tied for second in overall NHL scoring with 16 goals and 34 assists for 50 points in 37 games played. The Penguins will host the Sabres at Mellon Arena tomorrow in the first of the back-to-back encounters that will culminate with Tuesday’s outdoor game.
Q. How often have you actually skated outdoors when you were growing up in Nova Scotia?
SIDNEY CROSBY: A lot. I mean, probably not as much as other kids in Ontario and Quebec. Our weather wasn’t always consistently cold. But I’ve certainly done it enough. Always had fun doing it. Certainly looking forward to this time.
Q. Have you been asking Adam Hall or some of the other guys on the team, Georges Laraque, who played in an outdoor game for some tips on what to wear?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I think with Hall in Michigan there, it wasn’t maybe quite as cold as it was for Georges and Conks when they were in Edmonton. You know, they always talk about how cold it was. They were saying kind of the best place was on the bench where the heaters were because it was so cold.
So hopefully it’s not quite that cold and hopefully the weather will be good to us.
Q. What are you expecting? You said you played outdoors as a kid. What are you expecting as far as the conditions? The Buffalo weather can be pretty unpredictable.
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I think the big thing I’m thinking about probably is the wind. You know, as far as the cold, I think we’ve all prepared for that in some way growing up, whether playing outside or whatever it’s been. I think the wind could be a factor. You know, it’s something you have to think about.
You know, you look at football. You look at the coin toss and things like that. If we’re going into the wind for two periods, it might be a little bit different. It’s something you have to think about. But outside of that, I think you’ve just got to try to play, enjoy it and hope that everything goes smooth.
Q. Looking at the game, playing outside obviously presents some interesting challenges. You talked a little bit about the wind. What is your expectation in terms of what it’s going to be like from a crowd standpoint, having the crowd be so much larger? Have you ever played in front of that large an audience before?
SIDNEY CROSBY: No, never. I’m not really sure what to expect. The weather, you know, might have something to do with how loud they are. I mean, if it’s freezing, I’m sure they might not be quite as loud. It might be a little bit longer for them out there.
But, you know, it’s something I think we’re all looking forward to, to play in front of that many people. You know, we’re on the road but we know there’s a lot of people that will go to that game and pull for our team, too. So we’re looking forward to that.
Q. When you were 12 years old, did you ever think you’d be playing in front of 70,000 people on national television?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, never. I mean, I thought my outdoor days were done, for sure. I mean, as far as maybe getting home in the winter and playing the odd game outside with some kids or with some friends, I didn’t think I’d be playing outside in an NHL game.
I think we all feel pretty fortunate, you know, to be part of the two teams that are playing. There could have been other teams that did this, so I think we’re all feeling pretty lucky we have this chance.
Q. Do you think the league can do more than one game during the season?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I think one’s good. I mean, it doesn’t always have to be the same teams, but I think one’s good. It’s something for everyone to look forward to. You know, for fans and players, it’s exciting. I think it’s going to bring attention.
I don’t think there’s a huge problem with that as long as, you know, weather permitting, it doesn’t mess anything up. It’s something we all look forward to.
Q. Do you remember watching the Heritage Classic between Edmonton and Montréal four years ago? You would have been in Rimouski at the time?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I think we actually played that day so I didn’t get to see much of it. I think we saw the game before. I think it was like Stars game. It looked freezing. I mean, I can remember Theodore having the tuque on his goalie mask. You know, it was something about playing outside. I think everyone realizes it kind of brings you back. We all remember those days playing outside, so there’s something special about being outside playing a game.
Q. You left home, you were pretty young. Do you remember when the last time you played an organized game outdoors was?
SIDNEY CROSBY: You know what, in Rimouski they had outdoor rinks. I can remember, we’d have an off day, I used to get my trainer to sneak my skates in my car and I used to go shoot outside and play outside and we’d have three?on?three games with guys on our team. We enjoyed that a lot.
I can remember playing under the lights. That was the best time. They’d flood the ice around 8:30, think everyone is done for the day. I’d sneak out around 9 or 9:30 in Rimouski. So I had a lot of fun doing that. I’m looking forward to playing outside.
Q. What kind of extra equipment or long underwear, scarves do you think you might have to wear for this game?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I think they’ve talked to some of the football people about maybe something that’s going to cover your neck and your head. Definitely you’re probably going to be changing your long underwear between periods, at least your top shirt. We’ll have to see about gloves, whether guys are comfortable wearing maybe winter gloves underneath their own gloves. They would have to be pretty thin. I’m sure there are a few ideas bouncing around. We get the opportunity to practice I think once the day before. I think that’s when you’ll see some of the adjustments.
But, you know, I think we’re kind of going in and just kind of winging it with the practice and see how things feel.
Q. Have you thought about wearing eye black if the sun is out?
SIDNEY CROSBY: You know what, that never even crossed my mind. But, you know, that might be something that’s an issue, too. I never even thought of that, to be honest with you. That could be a possibility. That would look pretty funny, though (laughter).
Q. You have a lot of guys on your team who are certainly capable of playing in a free?wheeling type of game. Do you think from a nostalgia standpoint, remembering playing on the ponds, this might be a bit more wide open than the typical game?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I hope so. I mean, those were fun games, a lot of scoring. We’ll see. I mean, it depends on a few things: obviously the conditions and how the ice is, whether it snows or things like that. But, you know, if it’s a little bit colder, guys might not be quite as quick.
Who knows. But I’m sure our coaches are going to make sure that teams are still playing the same way. As much as you enjoy playing outside, you got to remember it’s a regular?season game and there’s points on the line. You can’t change too much. So both teams are good skating, like you said, so hopefully it will be up and down. But hopefully, you know, not too confusing or having everyone everywhere.
Q. Looking at your team, it’s obviously been a bit of an up?and?down first few months. You won a couple games in a row. Are you starting to get a sense that things are starting to come together?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I think. We’ve just got to make sure we’re consistent. You know, there’s sometimes where we’ve played some good hockey two or three games in a row and been rewarded, and there’s been other times where we played well and came out on the wrong side of things. I think that’s where the league is right now. You look at the standings, one night we get a win, we’re fifth in the conference, and you lose one and you’re back in 11th or 12th. So everything’s really tight right now, and that’s just the way things are.
Q. Are your folks coming to this game in Buffalo?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yes, they are.
Q. Something like this, where it’s almost like a great family flashback, can you talk about some of the sacrifices your parents did, not just financially, but lifestyle?wise to ensure you played the game?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I mean, it’s endless, whether it’s getting up early in the morning, rushing home from work to get you to practice, cooking you a pre-game meal. You know, there’s a lot of things that parents do, you know, little things that go a long way, have allowed us I think as hockey players to live out our dreams. We owe a lot to them. For them to be able to share this I think is something we all look forward to. I think they all remember when we were coming home soaking wet, cold, and asked for some hot chocolate after a day outside in the rink, they look at those times, and now they’re looking at us playing in the NHL, living our dream, and playing in an outdoor game, I think it’s special for them, too.
Q. People are asking you about playing outside, all sorts of things that go on in the league. You’re the centerpiece of the league. The marketing, everything that goes on with the league revolves around you. Have you ever stopped to think maybe it drags on you a little bit or it becomes a little too much?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Well, I think it’s got to be managed. But there’s certainly times where, you know, it’s just probably more than usual. But, you know, that’s the way it is. I’ll be the first one to tell you I’m never going to complain about that. My mentality doesn’t change as far as what I have to do.
You know, if things start getting away with that, I’ll have to make sure that I change it and manage it right. But, you know, really that’s kind of out of my control to some degree. I got to make sure that I worry about playing and try to stay fresh mentally as far as that’s concerned.
Q. Have you learned to say no to a few things, whereas maybe in the past you wouldn’t have?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I mean, there’s a bit of a balancing act there. I certainly feel a little bit of responsibility of helping in that area. But also, like you said, if it becomes mentally draining or too much, there’s got to be a time where you manage it and maybe sometimes say no, too.
I think I’ve tried and done my best to do that. And it’s not something that happens overnight. You have to learn as you go through it and experience it and find out what works. But, you know, I think that’s just part of gaining experience.
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