It's a full-time job, and not just for him. Fans have pilgrimaged to Cole Harbour for years, leaving items at his parents' house to be signed, knocking long after business hours are over. Sometimes it's sweet: Last summer a van from Vancouver pulled up and a man asked if this was, indeed, Sid's boyhood home. When Trina said yes, he screamed, "It's her!" and more than a dozen people spilled out of the van. Other times mailbox notes will demand jerseys, favors, cash. "The occasional wack job will come by," Trina says. "You don't know what you're dealing with when you open the front door."
Such approachability, though, is part of Crosby's appeal. His low-key demeanor also happens to dovetail with the Canadian self-image—self-effacing, deceptively tough—and gets inflated into a philosophic pose anytime Alex Ovechkin, his lone competition for best player alive, pantomimes a hot stick or taunts Crosby with a chicken dance. Mention Alex the Great's habit of hurling himself into the glass after scoring to anyone in Camp Crosby, and you'll hear, "But 60 times [an NHL] season?"
Crosby himself has sniffed at Ovechkin's celebrations ("Some people like it, some don't. Personally I don't") and of course, for now Crosby has the last word. His Penguins outdueled Ovechkin's Capitals in an epic seven-game Eastern Conference final last spring, and it was Crosby's Team Canada that contained Ovechkin and sent Russia home from Vancouver without a medal. "Every time he's been challenged, he's risen to the occasion," Podnieks says.
To the world and to his nation, Crosby was the face of Canada's journey to Olympic hockey gold, the center for Team Canada figuratively and literally. He was the linchpin on the ice, defending with his actions the faith he had defended in words on a national commercial, released just after he was named The Canadian Press male athlete of the year in December 2009. The ad opened with Crosby declaring, "Hockey? Hockey is our game."
The proof is the medal around Sidney Crosby's neck.