Penguins warm fans’ hearts off ice
Crosby among players delivering season tickets
GIBSONIA, PA. It was like a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes commercial when Pittsburgh Penguins season ticketholder Kristopher Proctor opened his front door to see Sidney Crosby standing there Wednesday.
What escaped from his mouth was a yelp befitting someone who felt as if he had won the grand prize.
“My sons will be talking about this 20 years from now,” Proctor said.
It’s an annual tradition for the Penguins to send out players throughout the metropolitan area to deliver tickets to 50 season ticketholders. The selected winners, chosen randomly, are informed a player is coming, but the identity isn’t revealed until he shows up.
To have Crosby visit his home two days before the Penguins start training camp in preparation for their quest to win a third consecutive Stanley Cup seemed unreal to Proctor.
“(My kids) were pretty shocked. I know I didn’t believe it,” Proctor said. “To have any player from the team would have been awesome. The fact that it is the best player in the world playing in the driveway with my kids — nothing is going (to top) that.”
Crosby signed multiple jerseys, hugged a grandma, posed for countless photos and then played ball hockey with Proctor’s sons Adam, 9, and Josh, 4.
“This is really a nice thing that the team does because you get to meet the people,” Crosby said. “When you play, it’s just a mass of people but you don’t meet anyone one-on-one.”
In Crosby’s second stop, he met Chris McLaughlin, who has had season tickets for 25 years. Crosby saw that McLaughlin had a photo of himself with the Stanley Cup, so he listened intently to McLaughlin tell about how he got up close and personal with the Cup in 1992 when the Penguins won. McLaughlin knew former Penguins defenseman Jim Paek.
McLaughlin’s son, Quin, now a college student, showed him his former room, decorated in fullon Penguins’ motif.
“There’s just great sports fans here,” Crosby said. “I knew that from Day 1 when I showed up and the airport was packed with people.”
Crosby was slightly late for his first delivery, but the Proctors likely will forgive him because his tardiness was due to doing extra skating sprints with a few teammates at the Penguins practice facility, the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, after an informal practice concluded.
The Penguins are trying to become the first NHL team in more than 30 years to win three Cups in a row.
Crosby and the Penguins had a short summer, and he won’t sell his training short.
“(Winning three in a row) is a lot of motivation,” Crosby said. “That’s the way we have to look at it.”
Crosby said he enjoys being a deliveryman because it is a sign that the season is just around the corner.
His favorite delivery moment came years ago when a woman told Crosby the Penguins were going to win the Cup. “She said, ‘I have a good feeling about this year,’ ” Crosby recalled, noting that was in 2009, when he won his first Stanley Cup.
Sidney Crosby personally delivered Penguins season tickets to the Proctor family on Wednesday.