You think Sidney Crosby gets tired playing hockey? Try spending a game in his dad’s slippers.
“I’d rather be playing than watching,” says Troy Crosby, a former goaltender who was drafted in the 12th round (240th overall) by the Montreal Canadiens in 1984. “I’d like to be on the ice taking care of business, if you know what I mean. I think I play every shift with him.”
Troy Crosby says he is very proud to be the father of the young man judged by The Hockey News to be the most powerful and influential individual in the sport in the Jan. 8 issue. That’s because Troy, perhaps more than anybody, knows the price Sidney pays for being the face of the NHL. The demands on his time are monumental.
“To be honest, it can be tough,” Troy says about sitting back and watching his son be pulled in a hundred different directions. “There are times when, as a parent, you think you know your kid better than others do and you’d like to take more control. There are times I’d like to say, ‘That’s enough,’ but it’s not my position to do that. Plus, there’s a lot of pressure on him. There’s a lot on his plate and he tries to do everything. Even when he’s doing the best he can, sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s enough.”
Troy saw first hand how crazy things get when he accompanied the Penguins on their trip through Western Canada in early December. It was Sid the Kid’s first trip west, in his third year in the NHL, and the media coverage was unprecedented. A father’s inclination is to protect his child and Troy found it difficult to see Sidney spread so thin.
“In Calgary, I was there for the morning skate at 11:30,” Troy says. “Most guys are off the ice by 12 noon, they have their shower and they’re back at the hotel by 12:45. He was doing interviews – a press conference – at 1:30 and this is the day of the game. By time he gets back to his room after his meal, his whole routine is messed up. As a dad, sometimes you just wish they’d just let him play hockey.”
OK, that’s the down side of being a hockey dad. There is a huge upside, too. Aside from the fact his son rakes in millions of dollars with many more millions to come, Troy gets to travel to see his kid play. His goal is to go to all 30 NHL rinks.
“I have five to go,” he says.
Fact is, Troy says he never missed one of Sidney’s games until he went away to play at Shattuck-Saint Mary’s boarding school in Minnesota.
“It was unbelievably tough,” he recalls. “My heart was broken for a couple of weeks after he left.”
Sidney Crosby has been in the spotlight since he was 14 years old. That’s how it is when a player of Wayne Gretzky’s stature anoints you The Next One. Because of that, Sidney has learned how to deal with the media. At 20, he’s an old pro at the publicity game, another aspect of his life that makes his father proud.
“You want your children to be respectful and have good values and stand by what you believe in,” Troy says. “He never had any formal training in terms of dealing with the media. When I read that, I get a little insulted. He wasn’t sent to acting school. We believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. We’re really proud of him, the way he has handled himself from a very young age.
“If it was me, I’m certain there would be times I’d say, ‘Not tonight…I’m not in the mood.’ But when Sid makes a commitment, he doesn’t duck out of it. Even after a bad game. I’ve read stories about other players who, if they play a bad game, they might hide in the trainer’s room to avoid the media. He’s never done anything like that.”
Informed that Sidney was No. 1 on our annual list of people of power and influence, Troy Crosby was surprised…and impressed.
“Wow,” he says. “That’s amazing.”
Troy is the first to admit his son is emotional. Sidney has been known to jaw with opponents and opposing coaches in the heat of action. He even got into his first fight, with Boston’s Andrew Ference, Dec. 21, and handled himself rather well.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve,” Troy says. “He’s a very passionate guy. I think he got that from me. We hate to lose. He’s very hard on himself. He’s emotional and passionate. It’s who he is. People mistake it for whining, which I don’t think it is. I think it’s just his passion. He gets caught up in the game and he reacts.”
Just like dear old dad.
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