Dube excited to clash with idol Crosby
Flames rookie idolized Crosby growing up and now he’s set to battle his boyhood hero
That dogged determination, that ability to dart in and out of traffic … that was apparently on display long before Dillon Dube earned a job with the Calgary Flames this fall.
Because on this day, an atom-aged Dube wasn’t the only kid angling for an autograph from Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby.
“Probably when I was 10 years old, I went to one of their pre-game skates and he signed my jersey,” Dube recalled. “We were just in the crowd, there were probably 200 people, and luckily enough, I fought my way in there and got it signed.
“I was just such a big fan of his, so I was pretty pumped.”
A rookie campaign is always packed with pinch-me moments, and Thursday brings another ‘holy smokes’ sort of night for the 20-year-old Dube.
Anxious to rebound after an embarrassing effort against the Canadiens in Montreal, the Flames open a two-game homestand when they welcome Crosby and the Penguins to the Saddledome (7 p.m., Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).
In his current role as Calgary’s fourth-line left winger, Dube isn’t expecting to log a lot of ice time against the centre-of-attention in No. 87, but just sharing the stage with his childhood favourite will be something special.
“It’s going to be really cool,” Dube said. “You know, I can’t say I’ve been looking forward to that my whole life, because I didn’t know if I’d be in this situation, but it’s going to be cool to be out there. Ever since he entered the league, I have his rookie card, I’ve always looked up to him, and I still think he’s the best player.
“It’s going to be exciting. Obviously, with the matchups and everything, I probably won’t get a chance to play against him, but it’ll just be cool to observe him and watch him and just see how he works out there.”
Realizing a rookie can’t get caught watching a guy like Crosby, Dube added: “In warm-ups, maybe I’ll look across … I know it’s different, but on TV, I’ve watched him enough. I’ve seen him work enough that it’s just going to be another game for me.”
As Tuesday night turned to Wednesday morning, the entire hockey world was watching — and re-watching, and watching again — the jaw-dropping replay of Crosby’s game-winner in a 6-5 overtime triumph against the Edmonton Oilers in Alberta’s capital city.
The way he dipsy-doodled around Ryan Strome, evaded the long stick of Darnell Nurse and then tucked a backhander behind Cam Talbot, it ranks as one of the most mesmerizing markers of his career.
That’s really saying something for a guy who has 400-plus goals to choose from.
(As a bonus for the Flames, it bumped down the footage of their cringeworthy work against the Habs to a little later in the highlight shows.)
Like Dube, many of the NHL’s newest arrivals idolized Crosby as kids.
They ’ve watched him captain the Penguins to three Stanley Cup parades, twice lead Team Canada to gold at the Winter Olympics, and etch his name on just about every piece of individual hardware that you can think of.
And it’s not only that.
“It’s just the way he is, how classy he is,” Dube said. “I mean, that guy hasn’t had a mess-up in every year he’s played hockey. That goes off the ice, on the ice. He rarely makes mistakes because he always puts himself in the right position. He’s flashy when he needs to be, but he just plays the way — on and off the ice — that every kid looks up to.
“And I’ve heard that about him, too, that he just carries himself like he’s Sidney Crosby.”
Dube harkens back to that signature-seeking mission as a starstruck atom.
Turns out, he probably didn’t need to squirm through the crowd that day. It seemed that Sid was willing to stick around until he had autographed an item for everyone.
“I think he took about an hour, just because he was in a Canadian market, to sign people’s jerseys,” Dube recalled.
“He could have easily just walked onto the bus and left. So that was pretty special to see. Ever since then, I just knew how classy of a guy he was.”
Dube still has the evidence at home in Cochrane, although he joked that his mother Suzy — also a big fan of the Penguins’ marquee man — might be tempted to wear the autographed sweater on Thursday.
“It’s the only jersey I have. I was never a big collector or anything, never really a big fan of any team,” Dube said. “I never wore it after. I just let it hang in the closet, so it’s a collector one day.
“Because no matter how many years I play here, you have to respect him for being the best in the world. For a long time, he’ll be recognized as that.
“You respect him a lot for what he’s done.”
I have his rookie card, I’ve always looked up to him, and I still think he’s the best player. It’s going to be exciting.
Flames rookie Dillon Dube says he plans to sneak a peek at his childhood hero Sidney Crosby across the ice during warm-ups.